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Yanks Snap 6 Game Losing Streak

From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

ST. PETERSBURG — It had been a week since the Yankees were able to gather in the infield and shake hands, so they were going to enjoy this one for all it was worth.

Alex Rodriguez hit a pair of homers and David Robertson pinned the bases loaded in a big spot, allowing the Yankees to finally exhale with a 6-2 victory over the Rays, snapping their six-game losing streak.

“It was huge. It was desperation,” Rodriguez said. “We definitely needed to win the game; we haven’t won in a while. Hopefully, that’s the start of something good.”

Rodriguez’s second home run off James Shields was a sixth-inning laser that cleared the center-field fence, providing a slim lead, but there could be no guarantees during a stretch when nothing seemed to have gone right.

“It just felt like we needed to win this game,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “I don’t want to say must-win, but this was as close as you can get to a must-win in the month of May.”

Frustration has seeped into the Bombers’ DNA of late, and sure enough, the Rays threatened to extend the misery in the sixth, about the time Ivan Nova was slamming his glove into the dugout bench.

Opening the inning by allowing a walk to Ben Zobrist and a single to Johnny Damon, Nova recorded an out and then loaded the bases intentionally for Robertson, who was asked to perform another of his Houdini acts.

He escaped again, striking out B.J. Upton swinging and Casey Kotchman looking with four-seam fastballs that registered 95 and 96 mph, respectively.

“Big situation,” Robertson said. “I had to get two outs right there with the bases loaded. I can’t let anyone score because we need a win bad. I just gave it everything I had.”

“Robertson is a good pitcher,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “That was pretty much the turning point in tonight’s game, I thought.”

Robertson pumped his fist several times and screamed as he bounded off the mound, perhaps the most emotion Robertson has ever shown on a big league ballfield.

“I was a little excited tonight,” Robertson said with a grin. “I’ll try to keep it inside from now on.”

That froze Nova’s line at one run in 5 1/3 innings, having been touched only by Elliot Johnson’s third-inning homer. Nova walked two and struck out four.

“I won the game and it’s important, but my command out there, I don’t feel too good about that,” Nova said. “I know I can do better than what I showed today.”

Rodriguez, meanwhile, has been waiting for his own chance to break out, owning only one previous home run in May — and that one came last Thursday after enduring a 65 at-bat homerless stretch.

But A-Rod got the Yankees on the board in the fourth, belting a 2-2 Shields pitch into the left-field seats — proof positive that his time with hitting coach Kevin Long has been worth it.

“Kevin and I have been working over the last week or so to really focus on my bottom half,” Rodriguez said. “I’m just having some synergy with the whole body. Today was much better.”

Rodriguez added an exclamation mark his next time up with his eighth homer of the season, clapping his hands and flipping them skyward as he rounded first base.

“Sometimes it’s just timing,” Girardi said. “It seems like he has come off [the ball] a little bit lately. He has been trying to fight through it.”

Shields was a tough customer, striking out nine in seven innings, but the Yankees extended their lead in the seventh with two important runs — one unearned.

Back in the lineup after a loud public fiasco, Jorge Posada ripped a double to right that capped a 2-for-3 night, and Brett Gardner laid down a beautiful bunt single.

Recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Chris Dickerson looped a run-scoring single into center field that made it 3-1.

“It’s just one of those days that’s a blur,” Dickerson said. “It ended up working out very well. It felt a little bit like my first Major League hit.”

Derek Jeter followed with a fielder’s-choice grounder that second baseman Ben Zobrist threw away for an error, allowing Gardner to scamper home.

Robertson needed a little help of his own, leaving a two-on, two-out jam for Joba Chamberlain in the seventh, but Damon bounced out to end the inning.

New York added a pair of runs in the ninth off Brandon Gomes, coming on run-scoring hits by Gardner and Jeter, and with victory so close, the Yankees needed to close it out.

Amauri Sanit got a chance to get there in the ninth, but Zobrist’s two-out RBI double was the last straw. Girardi went to Mariano Rivera in a non-save situation for the 27th out, putting an end to a miserable week.

As they whooped it up in the center of the field, Gardner yelled repeatedly, “We won!” as though this May game had implications of a much later date. And there did seem to be an awful lot at stake.

“I think if we had lost today, we’d probably have had to take the bus all the way up to Baltimore tonight,” Gardner said.

NY Yankees AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Jeter, SS 5 0 1 1 0 3 3 .253
Granderson, CF 5 0 0 0 0 2 3 .270
Teixeira, 1B 3 0 1 0 1 0 0 .254
Rodriguez, A, 3B 4 2 2 2 0 0 2 .250
Cano, 2B 4 0 1 0 0 1 0 .285
Martin, C 4 1 1 0 0 1 1 .252
Posada, DH 3 0 2 0 0 0 0 .179
1-Nunez, E, PR-DH 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 .304
Gardner, LF 4 2 3 1 0 1 1 .265
Dickerson, RF 3 0 1 1 0 1 2 .333
Totals 35 6 12 5 1 9 12 .250
NY Yankees IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Nova(W, 4-3) 5.1 4 1 1 2 4 1 4.33
Robertson, D(H, 8) 1.1 0 0 0 2 3 0 1.62
Chamberlain(H, 9) 1.1 1 0 0 0 0 0 3.80
Sanit 0.2 1 1 1 1 0 0 6.75
Rivera, Ma 0.1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1.42
Totals 9.0 6 2 2 5 7 1 3.83

Rays Raise Yanks’ Losing Streak to 6

From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:

ST. PETERSBURG — There was no time warp that A.J. Burnett had wandered into as he pitched in the sixth inning on Monday, though it could have felt that way as he made a four-run lead vanish into thin air.

Burnett coughed up the advantage in a flashback to his forgettable 2010 season as the Yankees endured their season-high sixth straight loss, a 6-5 defeat to the Rays at Tropicana Field.

As one of the team’s most reliable starters this year, Burnett hopes that one bad inning won’t spark all of the here-we-go-again talk that he has worked to avoid since his first day back in uniform this year.

“Last year’s gone, man,” Burnett said. “We need to turn the page about talking about last year. This is this year. If you all can’t tell, I’m better this year already. I don’t know what else I can do.”

So little seems to be going right for the Yankees in this rocky rush, but it seemed they might be rounding the corner when they built a 5-1 lead through five innings, sending tough lefty David Price to the showers.

“This is going to turn,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “We are going through a really tough stretch right now. This is where you are tested as a team. You have to get to the other side.”

The Rays had not scored more than five runs in a home game all season, but they were able to take care of that tricky statistic in just one inning, battering Burnett in a five-run sixth that saw nine batters come to the plate.

After Johnny Damon’s fourth-inning solo homer accounted for Tampa Bay’s total output, Sam Fuld challenged Burnett to avoid issuing a walk and revved up the damage with a two-run homer once Burnett fell behind.

“He’s not a guy with tremendous power, and he ends up hitting a home run,” catcher Russell Martin said of Fuld. “That’s frustrating. We weren’t able to get ahead of hitters.”

Burnett recorded the next two outs before descending into the type of implosion that would provide the motivation for many of his offseason workouts near his Maryland home.

Evan Longoria kept the inning going with an infield hit that ticked shortstop Derek Jeter’s glove, and Burnett uncorked a wild pitch that preceded Matt Joyce’s run-scoring single.

After another wild pitch pelted the backstop, B.J. Upton drilled a two-run homer to left that gave Tampa Bay the lead, completing a crushing comeback and ending Burnett’s night.

“I just floated a hook in there,” Burnett said. “That’s where Upton likes it — he hits curveballs in the zone, and that one was right there for him.”

Burnett walked off having allowed eight hits, walking one and striking out three, as the Rays saw 41 pitches against Burnett and reliever Luis Ayala in the frame.

“It’s not positive, but it will be,” Burnett said. “I think I’ve come too far to let one inning pop in my head. Now we go back to work.”

Based on Burnett’s results to this point in the season, the Yankees figure to be more inclined to offer a pass, but a clunker could not have come at a worse time.

Needing to rebound from a horrid homestand in which they lost two of three to the Royals, were swept by the Red Sox and battled the public fiasco of Jorge Posada asking out of the lineup, the Yankees were hoping to find sunnier scenery near their spring home.

“No team is immune from it,” Girardi said. “It’s never fun when you go through it. For me, it’s like when I have to go to the dentist. I know I have to get through it, but I still dread it every time I go.”

The drill seemed to be back in the drawer early, as Eduardo Nunez ripped a two-run single off Price in the second inning.

Granderson then continued his resurgence against left-handed pitching, belting a three-run homer off Price in the fifth to open up a 5-1 lead.

The homer was Granderson’s 14th of the season and his Major League-leading seventh off a left-handed pitcher, as the mechanical tweaks made by hitting coach Kevin Long continue to pay dividends.

Of all the homers hit by Granderson off southpaws, however, this might have been the most impressive: Only one other big league left-handed hitter has taken Price deep, the Phillies’ Chase Utley, who did so on June 23, 2009.

But in the end, the outcome seemed all too familiar, dropping the Yankees to just a game over .500 and pushing them three games behind the American League East-leading Rays.

“We’re in a tough stretch right now, but good teams know how to get out of them,” Martin said. “And I think we’re a good team.”

Boxscore:

NY Yankees AB R H RBI BB SO LOB AVG
Jeter, SS 3 1 0 0 1 0 2 .255
Granderson, CF 4 1 1 3 0 1 0 .280
Teixeira, 1B 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 .252
Rodriguez, A, DH 4 0 0 0 0 3 0 .242
Cano, 2B 4 1 2 0 0 0 0 .286
Swisher, RF 4 1 1 0 0 1 1 .218
Jones, An, LF 3 0 0 0 0 1 3 .220
a-Gardner, PH 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 .248
Martin, C 4 1 2 0 0 0 1 .252
Nunez, E, 3B 3 0 1 2 0 0 1 .304
Totals 34 5 7 5 1 7 8 .248
NY Yankees IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
Burnett, A(L, 4-3) 5.2 8 6 6 1 3 3 3.99
Ayala 0.1 1 0 0 0 1 0 2.16
Logan 1.0 0 0 0 1 1 0 3.97
Chamberlain 1.0 0 0 0 1 0 0 4.05
Totals 8.0 9 6 6 3 5 3 3.88