Led by Loney, persistent Rays rout Yankees
Two-run single with two outs in seventh helps Tampa Bay snap skid
ST. PETERSBURG -- Brad Boxberger put out the fire, James Loney gave the Rays a lead, and Sean Rodriguez put the icing on the cake Friday night at Tropicana Field during an 11-5 win over the Yankees.
With the victory, the Rays snapped a four-game losing streak while moving to 8-9 on the season.
The ending of Friday night's game veered dramatically from the beginning, when the Rays trailed, 4-0, after two innings and appeared headed for their fifth consecutive loss.
Boxberger came to the Rays in a seven-player trade with the Padres on Jan. 22 and was recalled from Triple-A Durham by the Rays on Monday to take the spot of Jeff Beliveau on the active roster. On Friday night, Boxberger took over for Erik Bedard with two outs in the fourth and runners on first and second.
Making his first start for the Rays, Bedard had already allowed four runs in the game, but he handed off to Boxberger on a high note after striking out Brett Gardner for the second out of the fourth.
"Whenever I get called on early in a game, it's never for a good reason," Boxberger said. "It's always to kind of put out the fire and keep the team in the game."
Boxberger's task would be to retire Derek Jeter.
"Coming in when I'm out on the mound, I'm just thinking about getting the hitter out," Boxberger said. "I don't care if it's him or whoever else is out there."
Boxberger accomplished his mission by striking out the Yankees' captain swinging to end the inning.
"Looking back on tonight, I'll be like be able to put it in perspective," said Boxberger, who was optioned back to Durham after the game. "It's pretty cool to be able to face somebody I've grown up watching. And to go out there and be able to compete against him is pretty cool."
By the time Boxberger's outing ran its course, the right-hander had pitched two scoreless frames at a juncture when the Rays needed calm.
"[Boxberger] was really, really, a major reason why we won that game today," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "He comes in, first and second, gets Jeter to strike out. A really good night. ... A big part of the victory tonight goes to him."
Entering Friday's game, the Rays had scored 16 runs in their previous 10 games and desperately needed a kick start. Loney provided the first spark with a two-run double in the fourth to cut the Yankees' lead to 4-2. Loney then came through again in the seventh when his two-run single on a 1-2 pitch from Adam Warren put the Rays on top, 6-5.
"Two strikes right there," Loney said. "He just left something out over the plate a little bit, more than he wanted. They were trying to come in; I just got it over the second baseman's head."
Loney's four RBIs matched his most as a Ray and gave him his fourth game-winning RBI of the season.
Joel Peralta pitched a scoreless eighth for the Rays and Grant Balfour began to loosen up in the Rays' bullpen during the bottom half of the inning, ostensibly to pitch the ninth. But Rodriguez hit a two-out, two-run homer and the Rays' offense added three more runs in the inning to put the game away.
Rodriguez's second home run in as many nights gave him his first home run against a right-hander since July 3, 2012.
Balfour sat down, deferring to Brandon Gomes, who retired the Yankees in order in the ninth to end the game.
"You know, [the bullpen is going to blow the lead] every once in a while," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We had a hiccup. We had two strikes a number of times and we couldn't put them away. … They put up tough at-bats, and you move on."
The Rays' four-run comeback marked the team's largest since a rally against the Marlins last May 28, when they won, 7-6, after trailing, 4-0. The 11 runs marked their most since a 12-0 win last July 1 at Houston.
Mostly, Rays hitters just enjoyed posting some crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
"It felt great [to break loose offensively], everybody having fun and scoring a lot of runs," Loney said. "We've been hitting the ball pretty good lately, I thought. Sometimes they have to catch them."
Maddon could see some healing take place in Friday's win.
"I'd like to believe this is a definite reboot kind of game," Maddon said. "Finally, we got a couple of balls to find some grass or between the defenders, so that's good. I'm really proud of the guys for not caving in to the moment. They continued to push all the way through it. Get down, 4-0, and the other team's got a lot of good stuff going on, to come back the way we did is pretty impressive."