ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Sergio Romo relieved in the eighth inning, shifted to third base when Jonny Venters replaced him in the ninth, then struck out Brett Gardner to end the game with two on and give the Tampa Bay Rays a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees on Wednesday.
Scheduled Rays starter Nathan Eovaldi was traded to AL East-leading Boston about two hours before game time, and six pitchers combined on a seven-hitter.
New York has lost just two series since May, and both are against the Rays. Tampa Bay swept three games in late June, took two of three this week and has won six of its last seven against the Yankees. New York, 14-14 over its last 28 games, acquired reliever Zach Britton from Baltimore late Tuesday but said he will not report until Thursday’s homestand opener against Kansas City.
Neil Walker hit a sacrifice fly in the second inning, but the Rays took a 3-1 lead in the sixth when Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-run homer off Luis Cessa (1-2) and C.J. Cron added a solo drive against Jonathan Holder.
Romo relieved Jose Alvarado with two on and one out in the eighth, allowed Giancarlo Stanton‘s sacrifice fly and struck out Gleyber Torres, who went 0 for 3 with a walk in his return from a strained right hip that caused the rookie to miss 15 games. He also made a nifty play up the middle on Matt Duffy’s first-inning grounder.
Venters, a left-hander, relieved to start the ninth and induced a groundout from left-handed hitter Greg Bird. The right-handed Romo returned to the mound, and Adeiny Hechavarria entered at shortstop as Duffy shifted back to third.
Miguel Andujar singled and took second when Duffy was charged with an error for dropping a throw at second on Aaron Hicks’ grounder. Pinch-hitter Austin Romine fouled out on a sliding catch by first baseman Jake Bauers, and Gardner worked the count full before striking out on a sinker that was well outside. Romo got his 12th save in 18 chances.
Diego Castillo (2-1), the second Rays reliever, worked two scoreless innings.
Cessa, recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replaced Domingo German in the rotation, allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The Yankees have hit just one homer in five games since the All-Star break. They had 30 over the first 15 games this month.
Yankees: General manager Brian Cashman expects C Gary Sanchez (right groin strain) to be back in last August or early September. … Hicks (sore left shoulder) was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game but entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh. … INF Brandon Drury, whose left hand was bruised when hit by a pitch Tuesday, should avoid the DL, according to manager Aaron Boone. … INF Tyler Wade was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Rays: AL All-Star C Wilson Ramos (left hamstring strain) will catch when LHP Vidal Nuno (right hamstring strain) throws batting practice Saturday and could start a minor league rehab assignment Monday. … Venters (right hamstring strain) was activated from the 10-day DL by the Rays, who recalled RHP Austin Pruitt from Triple-A Durham and optioned RHP Chih-Wei Hu to the International League club.