NEW YORK (AP) — Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon insisted he was going back to his hotel to call his wife and finish an engrossing novel. That game out in Oakland: not on the agenda.
His team had other ideas.
David Price earned his league-leading 18th win with another superb performance against the New York Yankees, and the Rays opened a key series against their AL East rival Friday night by taking advantage of a fading CC Sabathia and hanging on for a 6-4 victory.
After being swept by the Orioles this week to fall four games back of division co-leaders New York and Baltimore, the Rays let loose — jumping around and clapping hands, Price said. They also had every TV in the clubhouse turned to the O's and A's.
Oakland beat Baltimore 3-2 and the Yanks and O's remained tied for first in the AL East.
"That was a big game for us, facing CC and that lineup," Price said. "We were up to the task."
Out of the rotation since Sept. 2 because of a sore shoulder, Price (18-5) boosted his AL Cy Young Award credentials with seven innings of two-run ball. Striking out six and giving up five hits, the lanky lefty got a big lift from an inadvertent deflection off an umpire and a fine play by second baseman Elliot Johnson.
Price improved to 7-3 against the Yankees. The Rays have won seven of the eight games he has matched up against Sabathia.
With Price out of the game, Alex Rodriguez hit his 647th homer, a two-run shot off Joel Peralta in the eighth that sent him past Lou Gehrig for ninth place on the runs list with 1,889 and scored Derek Jeter to make it 5-4.
Jeter, serving as the designated hitter for a second straight day because of an injured ankle, singled leading off to wake up the 45,200 fans that were silenced by Tampa Bay's rally against Sabathia (13-6). Jeter had an infield single in the fifth to pass Willie Mays for 10th on the hits list with 3,284.
After a walk to Robinson Cano, closer Fernando Rodney entered. The top reliever by ERA in the majors (0.66) struck out Russell Martin, threw a wild pitch and walked pinch hitter Raul Ibanez. Curtis Granderson meekly grounded to end the threat and send many to the exits.
Rodney finished with a perfect ninth for his 43rd save in 45 chances.
"We had two Cy Young candidates pitch for us tonight," Maddon said. "Two guys at the top of their game. It was fun to watch."
The Yankees lost for the fourth straight time with their burly ace on the mound.
Sabathia was sharp early, allowing only a single through four innings. But he lost control of his breaking ball in the fifth and was done after allowing six hits and four runs in 6 2-3 innings.
"I still believe in CC," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "There's a guy that's done so many special things for us here. So I still believe in him."
B.J. Upton homered off Cody Eppley leading off the eighth to make it 5-2.