By DICK SCANLON, Associated Press
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)-Corey Kluber and Gerrit Cole both battled for six impressive innings before the Tampa Bay Rays scored a pair of late runs to beat the Yankees 3-1 on Saturday, ending in four consecutive wins in New York.
Yandy Diaz had a tiebreaking infield hit in the seventh and Manuel Margot extended his hit streak to 15 games with an RBI single in the eighth.
“Like we said, if you can’t hit the starter, hit the reliever,” Margot said through an interpreter. “If their pitching is good, you have to make changes and I think in the long run, we make that change and get the base runs.”
Kluber allowed one run and three hits, didn’t walk five. In May, the two-time Cy Young Award winner put up a no-hitter for the Yankees against Texas.
Cole scored 10, gave up one run and two hits on three walks.
JP Feyereisen (4-0) got the win in his 19th consecutive no-score comfort appearance. Colin Poche placed ninth for his second save in two tries. Jason Adam also made an inning on the combined four-hitter.
With a score of 1-all, Kevin Kiermaier opened the Rays seventh with a single on the first pitch thrown by reliever Lucas Luetge (1-2). Francisco Mejia followed with the key hit of the game – a popup on the right line that fell double when second baseman Gleyber Torres overtook the ball.
“On its first climb, I thought,‘ oh no, it’s on the ground with no one there, ’’ ’Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I look like Gleyber got a good break from it. It’s kind of (falling) into the perfect spot where it’s going to be a tough game.
Kiermaier was thrown to the plate by first baseman Anthony Rizzo on a grounder, but Diaz fired a chopper to the third base line for a 2-1 advantage.
Wander Franco led the Rays to eighth and scored on Margot’s hit.
After walking Yandy Diaz to take the lead in the first, Cole retired 14 in consecutive games before giving up his first hit, Mejia’s two-out single in the fifth.
Cole was 1-6 in 12 career starts against Tampa Bay. He threw 105 pitches, including 26 each in the first and sixth inning.
“I kept us in the ball game, obviously tight,” he said. “We’re struggling to get anyone after the first, so it’s very tight and that forces you to make some pitches. We make a lot of good pitches and it keeps us in the ball game.
It was Cole’s 44th double-digit strikeout game since the start of the 2018 season, the most of the majors in that span.
Cole walked Ji-Man Choi and Franco with two outs in the sixth and Randy Arozarena drove the first run at Tampa Bay with a single, only the Rays ’second hit.
DJ LeMahieu, playing for the first time after missing four games with left wrist pain, opened the game with a double on the right side of the wall. After Aaron Judge’s single, Rizzo had a sacrificial fly for the Yankees ’only run.
After scoring just one of the first 23 innings of the series, the Rays hit six hits late in the innings and made three runs.
“We’ve faced three good pitchers in the last three days and they’ve had very good passes,” Kluber said. “I think the guys stay the course, don’t jump ship or change strategy or anything like that. Eventually you’ll see the rewards of it.”
Kluber and three relievers retired in 19 of the last 20 Yankee batters.
Yankees: RHP Domingo Germán, on the 60 -day injury list since March with right shoulder impingement syndrome, is about to begin a rehab job. . . . NI Tim Locastro (left lat strain) regularly at-bat and awaits a decision on a rehab assignment.
Lights: RHP Andrew Kittredge (low back tightness) played catch on Friday and Saturday after shutting himself down for four days, and hopes to rise a mound soon. . . . RHP Luis Patiño (left oblique strain) had a bullpen session on Saturday.
RHP Luis Severino (3-0, 3.02) will battle for the Yankees in a six-day break against LHP Shane McClanahan (4-2, 2.06) at the end of the series on Sunday. McClanahan is 0-2 in three career starts against New York.
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