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.