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Odorizzi's smooth start turns bumpy in Bronx

Johnson takes Lueke deep to unknot tie; Yankees don't look back

NEW YORK -- After collecting three wins in 36 hours and taking 32 innings to do so, the Rays played only one game on Saturday that lasted just nine innings, but they came away without the outcome they desired.

After Rays starter Jake Odorizzi was unable to get an out in the fifth, the Yankees piled on the Rays' bullpen in a 9-3 win over Tampa Bay in a game that chirped the familiar theme.

"We just needed more length out of our starter today," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.

The defeat snapped the Rays' three-game winning streak as they moved 14-17 on the season and 4-5 on the current road trip, which wraps up Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Odorizzi remained perfect through three innings, looking like he might finally break through after a tough start this season. And the Rays' offense had build a 3-0 lead on homers by Desmond Jennings and Wil Myers and an RBI single by Ryan Hanigan.

Odorizzi allowed that he thought his fortunes for the 2014 season had finally changed after his first three innings.

"I felt great, was hitting my spot, mixing well -- didn't really have to mix too much, but when I did, it was good," Odorizzi said.

Then the Yankees got busy in the fourth.

Jacoby Ellsbury singled to start the inning, and one out later, Mark Teixeira hit his fifth home run of the season to cut the Rays' lead to 3-2. Brian McCann added a double and Kelly Johnson walked before Odorizzi recovered to strike out Brian Roberts swinging to end the threat.

The Yankees got to Odorizzi again in the fifth. Ichiro Suzuki doubled to center and Yangervis Solarte walked. Ellsbury's ground-rule double then tied the game at 3 and chased Odorizzi.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi thought his team did a nice job of making adjustments against the right-hander.

"The first time through the lineup, he did a pretty good job against us," Girardi said. "He was ahead of us in a lot of cases. ... We adjusted to him. We haven't seen the kid much, and we adjusted to him."

Odorizzi has pitched just 11 2/3 innings over his last three starts.

"I'm just kind of weathering the storm," Odorizzi said. "It's the toughest thing I've ever had to go through in professional baseball."

The last 10 batters Odorizzi faced went 5-for-8 with two walks. He allowed three runs on five hits in four innings, but did not take the loss thanks to Cesar Ramos, who took over from Odorizzi with runners at second and third and no outs.

Ramos, who is scheduled to be Wednesday's starter against the Orioles, struck out Brett Gardner for the first out. After intentionally walking Teixeira to load the bases, Ramos struck out McCann and retired Alfonso Soriano on a groundout to end the threat.

"What Cesar did was tremendous," Maddon said. "I really thought that once he got through that moment, we might have a pretty good shot right here."

Because the bullpen has been taxed lately due to the overall ineffectiveness of the team's starters, Maddon has been fighting overusing his relievers. Closer Grant Balfour and setup man Jake McGee were available on Saturday, but the Rays needed to bridge the gap to get to the late innings. Josh Lueke inherited that duty by default since the rest of the 'pen was gassed.

With the game tied at 3, Lueke started the sixth for Tampa Bay to face Kelly Johnson, who hit 16 home runs as a part-time player with the Rays last season. Lueke got behind 2-1 in the count when Johnson rerouted a fastball into the right-field stands for his fourth homer of the season and a 4-3 Yankees lead.

"Just missed my spot," Lueke said.

Lueke remained on the mound in the seventh, when the Yankees put the game away after Teixeira singled in a run and Soriano's sacrifice fly scored another to push the lead to 6-3.

Lueke has not been called upon to pitch in many high-leveraged moments this season due to his ineffectiveness when given the chance to do so. Saturday afforded him an opportunity to change that perception, and he did not.

"It's always disappointing when they give you the ball in a tie game or you're winning, and you go out there and don't get the job done," Lueke said. "You just have to regroup and go back to throwing. You can't really dwell on it, otherwise it will snowball."

The Yankees scored their final three runs against Heath Bell in the eighth, an appearance that Maddon called unfair to Bell after the veteran right-hander's heroic 2 1/3-innings stint that earned him the win Friday night.

Masahiro Tanaka started for the Yankees. The much-ballyhooed right-hander settled in to pitch seven innings, allowing all three Rays runs on eight hits to move to 4-0 on the season.

"He's really good, has good stuff," Myers said. "Just got a pitch to hit."

Maddon sounded impressed by Tanaka.

"I thought he pitched well," Maddon said. "I would bet that that was not his best day in regards to his physical stuff. I thought we had good at-bats. I was really pleased with the whole thing. ... Once they scored the two points, he became a different pitcher."

The Rays will now try and regroup Sunday for the final game of a difficult road trip.

"Understand one thing, these guys have been playing some very good baseball in a very short amount of time," Maddon said. "... I'm really proud of the way they've handle this moment [throughout the road trip]. Let's regroup, have a good dinner tonight, come back and play ball tomorrow and get an off-day. ... We just need to get our starters to go deeper into the game. That's our primary thing to look at."

Bill Chastain is a reporter for
Read More: Tampa Bay Rays, Josh Lueke, Desmond Jennings, Jake Odorizzi, Wil Myers