TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — James Shields worked into the eighth inning to outpitch CC Sabathia, prolong Alex Rodriguez’s quest for his 600th homer and help Tampa Bay beat the New York Yankees 3-0 on Sunday.
Carl Crawford and Kelly Shoppach drove in runs for the Rays, who took two of three games during a matchup between the teams with the top two records in baseball.
The Yankees intended for Rodriguez to take a day off. But with Shields (10-9) sailing along with a three-run lead in the seventh, manager Joe Girardi inserted the slugger as a pinch-hitter with a runner on and two outs.
Rodriguez took a third called strike. He remained in the game at third base, but didn’t get to the plate again.
Shields walked one and struck out 11 while limiting the World Series champions to four hits over 7 1-3 innings.
Nick Swisher and Jorge Posada had consecutive singles for the Yankees in the second. Lance Berkman singled with one out in the sixth and Derek Jeter drove the Tampa Bay starter from the game with a one-out single in the eighth.
Chad Qualls, acquired Saturday from Arizona, got Berkman to hit into a double play to end the eighth. Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth, finishing the five-hitter and picking up his 30th save in 32 opportunities.
Sabathia (13-5) allowed three runs and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings, losing his second consecutive start after winning nine straight decisions.
Tampa Bay won for the eighth time in nine games, trimming New York’s lead in the AL East to one game.
Girardi made the decision to rest Rodriguez, who went 0 for 8 in the series and is 9 for 38 (.237) with eight RBIs in 10 games since hitting No. 599 on July. The manager explained A-Rod had played 13 straight days and he wants to keep his players healthy and as fresh as possible for the stretch run.
The Yankees lineup had a different look, too, with trade deadline acquisitions Berkman and Austin Kearns making their first starts as position players. Right-hander Kerry Wood also made his first appearance for New York in relief of Sabathia.
Berkman, who made his Yankees debut as the designated hitter on Saturday, filled in at first base for Mark Teixeira, who remained in the lineup as the DH. Kearns started in left field in place of Brett Gardner, going 0 for 2 before Rodriguez pinch hit for him.
With Carlos Pena out after leaving Saturday night’s game because of a sore right foot and Ben Zobrist sidelined for the fourth straight day by stiffness in his lower back, Tampa Bay essentially played two men short.
The only hitters available off the bench were Matt Joyce and John Jaso, but the Rays didn’t need their bats.
Shoppach drove in Tampa Bay’s first run with a soft liner that glanced off the outstretched glove of a backpedaling Berkman, who wound up falling to the ground on his back. Crawford’s infield single made it 2-0 in the third, and a second run scored in the inning when Evan Longoria grounded into a double play.
NOTES: Rays pitching prospect Jeremy Hellickson, who leads the International League with 12 wins, will be recalled from Triple-A Durham to make his major league debut Monday against the Twins. … Wood, acquired from Cleveland on Saturday, arrived at Tropicana Field several hours before game time. “Obviously excited,” he said. “Definitely glad to be here.” … New York LHP Andy Pettitte (strained left groin) threw 25 pitches half way up a bullpen mound and could have a full mound session Tuesday or Wednesday. … Crawford is a triple shy of joining Ty Cobb as the only players in the modern era to reach 400 steals and 100 triples before age 29. Crawford got his 400th career stolen base on Saturday.
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