ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - The New York Yankees' late rally wasn't enough to prevent a season-opening second-consecutive loss.
Luke Scott had three hits and drove in three runs in his debut as Tampa Bay's designated hitter, helping the Rays beat the Yankees 8-6 on Saturday night.
The Yankees trimmed a six-run deficit to two in the ninth, even getting Alex Rodriguez to plate as the potential tying run. But Fernando Rodney came out of the bullpen to retire A-Rod on a first-pitch grounder to a perfectly positioned second baseman playing on the left of second base.
``It hasn't really gone the way we would have liked for it to,' Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher said. ``But, hey, that's the name of the game. We just got to keep battling, keep fighting, stick together as a team because we're going to do a lot of special things.'
Left-hander David Price (1-0) allowed two runs and five hits over 6 1-3 innings to win for the first time since Aug. 28. The two-time All-Star walked four and struck out five.
``Price was really on his game.,' Swisher said. ``I feel like we've got a great team, and we've got to come here tomorrow and we've got to start proving that.'
Matt Joyce hit a solo homer off Hiroki Kuroda (0-1) for the Rays, and added a two-run single against Clay Rapada in the seventh after umpires used instant replay to overturn what initially was ruled a two-run homer for Evan Longoria.
Carlos Pena had a RBI single for Tampa Bay, building on his three-hit, five-RBI performance from Friday's 7-6 season-opening victory.
The slugger, signed this winter along with Scott to add punch to the lineup, hit a grand slam off CC Sabathia and a game-winning RBI single in the ninth off Mariano Rivera in the opener.
Longoria's fly to the wall in right field was changed to a ground-rule double. Replays showed a fan wearing a Yankees jersey reached over the railing and caught the ball, which would not have carried into the stands, with a glove. The reversal left runners on second and third, and Joyce followed with his two-run single to make it 8-2.
``I think it would have bounced (off the top of the fence),' Swisher said. ``I was definitely sure somebody reached over.'
New York scored on RBI singles by Andruw Jones and Eduardo Nunez in the fourth. Raul Ibanez's ninth-inning sacrifice fly and Swisher's three-run homer off Joel Peralta trimmed a six-run Yankees deficit to 8-6. Robinson Cano drew a walk from Jake McGee, but Rodriguez grounded out.
A 19-game winner two years ago when he finished second in Cy Young Award balloting, Price dropped to a 12-13 with a 3.49 ERA last season. He went 0-2 over his last six starts of 2011 - the longest winless streak of his career - and before Saturday night had gone eight consecutive starts at home since beating Boston on July 15.
Kuroda, signed as a free agent after spending the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, allowed six runs and eight hits over 5 2-3 innings in his Yankees debut.
``Overall, I wasn't really sharp,' Kuroda said through a translator. ``I didn't exactly command my pitches. I didn't have one pitch I could rely. It was really disappointing.'
Kuroda had a scare in the sixth when part of Reid Brignac's broken bat just missed hitting him.
``I saw the bat and I just ducked,' Kuroda said. ``Best reaction I could have.'
Scott, who drew an intentional walk as a pinch hitter in his Tampa Bay debut on opening day, lined a bases-loaded single to center in his first official at-bat for his new team. Pena's opening-day grand slam came in his first at-bat since rejoining the Rays, and his second-inning RBI single off Kuroda made it 3-0 Saturday.
Joyce, moved into the cleanup spot after going 0 for 4 with four strikeouts as the No. 9 hitter on Friday, hit his solo homer for 4-0 lead in the third.
Phil Hughes and Tampa Bay's Jeremy Hellickson are the scheduled starters in Sunday's series finale.
``It's an important game,' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ``(But) we have a long, long ways to go. We've got a 160 games left. If at any point during the course of the season you make too much out of two games, you're going to wear yourself out.'
NOTES: Rays CF B.J. Upton, who's on the 15-day disabled list because of lower back soreness, is expected to begin a minor league rehab stint on Monday. ... Yankees SS Derek Jeter was the DH, and Girardi said Rodriguez might DH or get a day off Sunday. Girardi's desire to keep his veteran players fresh during the season and the artificial turf at Tropicana Field were factors in the manager's thinking. ... New York second-place hitter Curtis Granderson and No. 6 Swisher switched spots against Price. Girardi said the change might be used on a regular basis when the opposition starts a left-hander.
The Associated Press News Service
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