NEW YORK (AP) - Roberto Hernandez got the New York Yankees to hit a bunch of bouncers. Too bad for Tampa Bay, those grounders turned into runs.
The Yankees scored with all sorts of small ball while the Rays never really broke through Friday night in a 6-2 loss.
``We weren't awful tonight,' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``We just had some bad baseball luck on our side.'
David Phelps (5-4) beat Hernandez (4-8) and the Rays for the second time in a month. Tampa Bay was trying for its first three-game winning streak in June.
Before rookie Zoilo Almonte's solo homer in the sixth inning made it 5-2, the Yankees found all sorts of ways to stay ahead.
Robinson Cano hit a sacrifice fly in the first and Ichiro Suzuki got an RBI with a soft comebacker in the third. The next inning, Jayson Nix grounded into a bases-loaded double play for a 3-2 lead and David Adams followed with an infield hit for another run.
``Anytime Roberto puts the ball on the ground, it's a good thing. It just didn't work out,' Maddon said.
Star third baseman Evan Longoria charged Adams' two-out tapper and threw wildly past first. Longoria crossed in front of Hernandez after his toss went wide, and both players looked frustrated at the result.
``It was all groundballs,' Maddon said. ``The damage was inflicted by groundballs and there's not a lot he can do about that. He actually had nine or 10 groundballs in a row and many were not hit that hard.
``Groundballs up the middle, chopper up the right side, chopper to Longo, chopper by Suzuki to the first-base side,' he said. ``Unfortunately, we could not get to those groundballs.'
Almonte provided much-needed pop in his first major league start, getting three hits. He started in place of slumping left fielder Vernon Wells and quickly delivered, a day after getting a pinch single for his first hit.
The 24-year-old was promoted from Triple-A this week, joining an injury-ravaged team that's had trouble scoring. Almonte also showed off a strong arm in helping the Yankees win for the third time in 10 games.
Phelps gave up two runs in 5 2-3 innings. The Yankees used four relievers to finish it, with Mariano Rivera closing in a non-save situation.
Ben Zobrist hit an RBI single in the Tampa Bay third and stole second, but Longoria struck out.
Luke Scott hit a single that made it 2-all in the fourth and the Rays went on to load the bases with one out. Matt Joyce hit a fly ball that Almonte caught on the run at medium depth, and his swift throw forced Scott to hold at third base. Desmond Jennings flied out to end the threat.
The Rays had combined for 29 hits in winning their previous two games. They had little to show for their nine hits in this loss.
``I thought we had some good at_bats,' James Loney said. ``Happens like that sometimes.'
NOTES: Rays LHP David Price (left triceps strain) gave up two runs and two hits in 2 1-3 innings for Class-A Charlotte in his first rehabilitation start. The reigning AL Cy Young Award winner struck out four and walked two. ... RHP Alex Colome will be promoted from Triple-A to start for the Rays on Saturday. In his only big league appearance, he didn't permit an earned run in 5 2-3 innings and beat Miami on May 30. ... LHP CC Sabathia (7-5, 3.93 ERA) starts Saturday for the Yankees. He's lost twice to the Rays this season and four straight times overall. ... The Rays signed first-round draft pick Nick Ciuffo. The 18-year-old catcher from South Carolina will join Tampa Bay's team in the rookie level Gulf Coast League. ... Only one other major leaguer has had the first name of Zoilo - 1965 AL MVP Zoilo Versalles.
The Associated Press News Service
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