ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Fernando Rodney's meltdown in the ninth inning could be more troubling to the Tampa Bay Rays than losing in the 11th.
Lyle Overbay homered off Josh Lueke with two outs in the 11th inning Saturday, lifting the New York Yankees to a 4-3 win over the Rays after rallying for two runs in the ninth against Tampa Bay's beleaguered closer.
Rodney blew his fifth save opportunity of the young season.
``This has been really awkward to watch,' said Rays manager Joe Maddon, who saw Rodney blow only two chances while saving 48 last season. He is 9 of 14 this year
In his last five appearances, Rodney has blown three saves while giving up seven earned runs - two more than in all of last season. He has a 6.05 ERA. Last year, it was 0.60.
But Maddon has no plans to change the structure of his bullpen.
``We have to work this a certain way to be successful,' he said. ``We're set up to win in a certain way and you have to continue to utilize people in their appropriate moments and roles. As long as he doesn't lose confidence in himself, I will not lose confidence in him.'
Rodney was not available for postgame comment in a subdued Rays clubhouse.
``You just go out there and find a way to close the door. Obviously we haven't so it's frustrating for everyone,' said Matt Joyce, who doubled and scored in the seventh to help the Rays take a 3-1 lead. ``Everybody wants to win and do well. Nobody wants to be giving up games, and I think everybody understands that the game is hard and you're going to struggle.'
Adding to the Rays' frustration were wasted opportunities in the ninth and 10th innings, when they got their leadoff man on base and failed to get the winning run across.
Ivan Nova (2-1), who made his first relief appearance after returning from a right triceps injury and being moved from the Yankees' rotation, struck out James Loney and got an inning-ending grounder from Joyce with the bases loaded in the 10th.
The Yankees were down to their last out against Rodney in the ninth when Overbay walked, went to second on a balk, and scored on Brennan Boesch's pinch-hit RBI double. Brett Gardner then added a run-scoring single to tie it 3-all.
Rays starter Matt Moore, looking to start the season 9-0, got a no-decision despite allowing one run and five hits in six innings.
Loney singled off Yankees starter Vidal Nuno to start the seventh and went to third on Joyce's pinch-hit double against Shawn Kelley. Kelly Johnson then put Tampa Bay up 2-1 on a single off Boone Logan. The Rays' advantage grew to 3-1 when Joyce slid home safely under catcher Austin Romine's tag attempt after Yunel Escobar hit a grounder to shortstop Jayson Nix.
Left-hander Jake McGee was set to get the win until Rodney took over in the ninth.
After giving up a leadoff walk in the 10th, Lueke (0-2) retired six of the next seven Yankees he faced, striking out three. But the exception was Overbay.
``I was very happy overall, obviously minus the fastball up and in to Overbay,' he said. ``But mistakes happen and you're a professional, so when you make mistakes they're supposed to do that. And he did his job.'
NOTES: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy was scheduled to throw the ceremonial first pitch, but was delayed getting to the ballpark due to a minor vehicle accident in which no one was injured. ... The Yankees put OF Curtis Granderson on the 15-day disabled list with a broken knuckle on his left pinkie and recalled Boesch from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
The Associated Press News Service
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