Yankees lose to Rays as AL East race tightens

Associated Press Published: September 3, 2012
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The New York Yankees are staying positive even as their AL East lead has almost completely disappeared and another star player was hurt.

James Shields pitched eight strong innings to outlast CC Sabathia and light-hitting Chris Gimenez drove in two runs Monday, helping the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Yankees 4-3 and further tighten the AL East race.

New York second baseman Robinson Cano hurt his left hip in the eighth inning, and isn't sure if he will play in Tuesday's second game of the three-game series. Cano said hopefully the injury is nothing bad.

"I think he's OK," New York manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees, who led by 10 games earlier this summer, had their edge cut to one game by Baltimore, which beat Toronto 4-0. The Rays moved within 2½ games of New York.

"Who's panicking? I'm not," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "You're going to have highs and lows, but you're still going to have confidence."

Shields (13-8) and the Rays ruined the return of Alex Rodriguez. The slugger went 1 for 4 with a strikeout in his first game after being sidelined six weeks with a broken left hand.

"Overall, I felt good," Rodriguez said. "I like the intensity that the team played with. Nobody's panicking."

Gimenez snapped a 3-all tie in the eighth with a two-out grounder that just made it to the outfield for a single off David Robertson (1-5). It looked as though Cano would be able to field the ball, but he felt a grabbing sensation in the hip.

"I was trying to reach for the ball," said Cano, who iced the hip postgame. "It's a little tight."

Gimenez, recalled from the minors Saturday and batting just .203, also had a RBI single off Sabathia in the second.

Fernando Rodney pitched the ninth for Tampa Bay, striking out Rodriguez and earning his 41st save by fanning pinch hitter Curtis Granderson with the tying run on third base. Granderson had been out since leaving Saturday's game with tendinitis in his right hamstring.

Granderson could be back in the lineup Tuesday.

Sabathia allowed three runs and eight hits, struck out four and walked two in seven innings.

Robertson gave up a leadoff single to Jeff Keppinger in the eighth, and it didn't look like it would wind up hurting the Yankees when Russell Martin threw out pinch runner Rich Thompson on a close play at second. Rays manager Joe Maddon trotted out to protest the call and was ejected after an animated discussion with second base umpire Bob Davidson.