NEW YORK –Randy Arozarena hit a three-run homer off Nestor Cortes in the first inning and the Tampa Bay staff held him up, leading the Rays to a 3-1 skid against the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
Starter Jeffrey Springs (5-3) and four relievers combined on four hits, and the crowd of 41,083 at Yankee Stadium occasionally booed their AL East leaders.
The Yankees have lost 11 of 13 and are 8-17 since reaching the all-star break at 64-28.
“Yeah, we’re all frustrated, but you can’t let frustration stop you from getting ready and going every night,” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “We have a few guys who are in a rut. We have to prepare and prepare and fight in our own way. That’s part of it and it’s not fun when you go through it, but that’s where we are. right now. “
Tampa Bay had just four hits while winning its fourth straight game and closing in nine games against the Yankees — New York’s smallest margin since also having nine leads on June 15. The Rays trailed 15½ games after being swept at Cincinnati on July 8-10.
“Winning in this stadium against this team can lift you up a bit and make you feel a lot better,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
New York lost its fifth straight series and was limited to three runs or less for the seventh straight game.
“It’s better for it to happen now in August than the first week of the playoffs or towards the end of the year when you get into the playoffs,” New York slugger Aaron Judge said.
New York avoided being shut out in three straight games for the first time since 2016 when Andrew Benintendi tripled in the fifth and scored on a field error by third baseman Yandy Díaz on a ground ball by Miguel Andújar.
Some fans booed when Andújar struck to finish the seventh with Josh Donaldson in third, and there were more when Jose Trevino struck to end the game.
Díaz and Issac Paredes started the match with singles. One out later, Arozarena gave the Rays a 3-0 lead by raising a 1-1 fastball into the left field seats for his 16th homer. It was Arozarena’s fourth homer in six games after the right fielder went without a homer in 16 straight games.
“I was looking for a ground to connect to,” Arozarena said through a translator. “I was hoping to hit a home run, that’s kind of what I was looking for, but mostly I’m happy we got the win.”
Cortes (9-4) allowed three runs and four hits in seven innings. He struck out three, didn’t walk, and struck out 19 of his last 21 batters.
“I think we’re going to change things soon,” Cortes said. “I don’t know when, but this team is capable of doing great things and obviously we showed that in the first half.”
Springs rushed 10 times and held New York to one run and two hits in five innings.
“It’s good to see,” Cash said. “Our pitchers have been exceptional the last two games here.”
Pete Fairbanks threw a perfect sixth, Brooks Raley got the first two outs of the seventh after Donaldson’s single and Shawn Armstrong got the next three outs.
Jason Adam needed four pitches to pull off the judge with a runner to finish the eighth.
Adam also whipped up two in a perfect ninth for his seventh save.
Rays: SS Wander Franco (right hamate bone) went 0 for 2 as the designated hitter for Triple-A Durham. He was expected to play five innings, but was released for a pinch in the fourth due to general hand pain and could play again Wednesday.
Yankees: INF DJ LeMahieu (right big toe) missed his third straight game. He is day to day but a decision on his inclusion on the injured list could come on Wednesday or Thursday. … OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton (Achilles tendon) could start a rehabilitation mission in the coming days. … RHP Clay Holmes, who pitched last Friday, said after the game he was suffering from back pain. … OF Harrison Bader (right foot plantar fasciitis) said he hopes to find out soon if his walking boot can come off.
Tampa Bay RHP Corey Kluber (7-7, 4.40 ERA) takes on New York RHP Domingo Germán (1-2, 4.18) on Wednesday night.