Yankees

Burnett Implodes; Yankees Drop 6th Straight

4-Run Lead Disappears In 6th As Rays Hold On For 6-5 Win
A.J. Burnett

The Yankees’ A.J. Burnett gets removed from the game in the bottom of the sixth inning on May 16, 2011, after getting tattooed by the Rays. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The New York Yankees’ slide continues thanks to a Rays’ comeback.

Sam Fuld and B.J. Upton both hit two-run homers to help Tampa Bay rally and hand the Yankees’ their sixth consecutive loss with a 6-5 victory Monday night.

The New York slide includes a three-game sweep by Boston at Yankee Stadium over the weekend that miffed team co-chairman Hank Steinbrenner. It’s the first time the Yankees have lost this many games in a row since a seven-game skid April 20-27, 2007.

“It’s early, but the team needs to get it together,” Steinbrenner said before the game. “We’ve got too much talent to be swept by anybody at Yankee Stadium, even if we’re playing the ’27 Yankees. It’s not acceptable. We need to start doing what I know we can do.”

New York has lost 10 of 13 since May 3.

“This is going to turn around,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We’re going through a really tough stretch. This is where you’re tested as a team, and you’ve got to fight through it.”

It is the first time the Yankees lost consecutive games in which they had leads of at least three runs since July 10-11, 2009, against the Los Angeles Angels, according to STATS LLC.

“This is a tough one,” New York catcher Russell Martin said. “Good teams know how to get out of it and I think we’re a good team.”

The Yankees have a .237 batting average during the skid, going 10 for 50 with runners in scoring position. They’ve been outscored 39-22 and have a 5.24 ERA.

Yankees starter A.J Burnett sailed through five innings and had a four-run advantage before imploding in the sixth. After Fuld homered and Matt Joyce drove in a run with a single, Upton ended Burnett’s night with his two-run drive that put Tampa Bay up 6-5.

“We tried to string together a couple of hits to keep us in the game and it snowballed into five,” Upton said. “We expect ourselves to stay in games at all times, so I don’t think it makes any difference it was the Yankees.”

Burnett (4-3) allowed six runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 inning. The right-hander had two wild pitches during the sixth.

“You’ve got an aggressive team there and they’re going to jump on mistakes,” said Burnett, who hung a curveball on Upton’s homer.

Juan Cruz (2-0) pitched a scoreless sixth for the win. Kyle Farnsworth got the final three out for his eighth save.

Curtis Granderson had given the Yankees a 5-1 lead on his three-run shot off Rays’ ace David Price in the fifth. It was the first homer against the left-hander by a left-handed hitter since Philadelphia’s Chase Utley went deep on June 23, 2009, a span of 310 at-bats.

Price gave up five runs and six hits in five innings. He entered 19-4 — including 3-1 in games with the Yankees — against the AL East.

“It’s a tough lineup,” Price said. “They hit good fastballs. I didn’t think I had my best stuff tonight, but the team picked me up and that’s what it’s about.”

Johnny Damon also homered for the Rays, who had not scored more than five runs in their first 22 home games this season. It was the longest stretch to open the season since the 1908 Brooklyn Superbas went 26 games.

“Getting the Superbas off our back is kind of nice,” Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said.

The Yankees took a 2-0 lead on a two-run single by Eduardo Nunez in the second. Damon cut the deficit to 2-1 with his fourth-inning homer.

New York designated hitter Jorge Posada was not in the lineup against Price. The switch-hitting doesn’t have a hit against a left-hander this season, and is 1 for 18 with 10 strikeouts against Price.

Alex Rodriguez was the DH, Posada’s spot for most of the season. A-Rod was hitless in four at-bats, including three strikeouts, and is hitting .242.

Posada pulled himself out of the lineup over the weekend, saying he needed a day off, and a public spat ensued between the slumping slugger and club management. Team captain Derek Jeter later said he saw nothing wrong with what his pal did.

Posada has since apologized to the Yankees. The team held a conference call Monday with Jeter, team president Randy Levine, general manager Brian Cashman and managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner.

Notes: Yankees RHP Rafael Soriano had continued stiffness in his right elbow during a bullpen session and is scheduled to be examined in New York on Tuesday. When asked about not be availble to pitch recently, Soriano said he didn’t think the bullpen has been a problem. “It is the hitters,” he said. “That happens sometimes. (One day) everything will better.” …. Yankees 2B Robinson Cano hit a foul ball just above his right knee in the fourth, but stayed in the game. He said his leg is a little sore and stiff, but plans to play Tuesday. … Granderson has 14 homers this season. … Price threw 98 pitches. … Tampa Bay LHP J.P. Howell (left shoulder surgery) is expected to rejoin the team Friday after a minor league rehab assignment.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)