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Yanks power past Rays to close gap on Jays

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann and Greg Bird homered to support Luis Severino's third consecutive victory as the Yankees defeated the Rays, 5-2, on Friday at Yankee Stadium to move within a half-game of the first-place Blue Jays in the American League East.

The home runs were the only hits allowed by starter Jake Odorizzi, who worked 6 2/3 innings and was tagged with the loss. Rodriguez hit a two-run homer in the second inning, McCann hit a solo shot in the fourth and Bird hit a two-run shot in the seventh.

"We've got guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark. We take our walks," McCann said. "That's what happened tonight. We got a walk, homer. Then another one. We can beat you in a lot of different ways."

Severino limited Tampa Bay to Evan Longoria's sixth-inning solo homer over a career-high 6 1/3 innings. The rookie logged his third consecutive victory, scattering seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts.

"He's adapted very well. He has confidence in what he's doing," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He understands what he needs to do, and he has confidence in all his pitches. He does a really good job."

Video: [email protected]: Girardi on Severino's outing, adaptability

Long time coming: Due to a slump and the Yanks' recent three-game foray into Interleague Play, A-Rod had not homered since Aug. 20, a span of 31 at-bats. He took care of that in the second inning, launching a no-doubt shot to left field off Odorizzi. It was Rodriguez's 27th home run of the season, making good on manager Joe Girardi's pregame proclamation that the slugger seemed very close to getting his stroke back.It was Rodriguez's 681st career homer.

"I've said for us to win, we usually need to hit the ball out of the ballpark, and that's what we did tonight," Girardi said. "Alex got us going right away with that two-run homer."

Video: [email protected]: A-Rod opens scoring with two-run shot

Odorizzi owned by McCann: Odorizzi entered Friday night's game haunted by McCann, who had 10 hits in 16 at-bats against the Rays right-hander, with five extra-base hits. Sooner or later, the law of averages had to catch up to McCann, right? Well, perhaps, just not on this night. McCann walked in his first at-bat in the second and scored on Rodriguez's home run. In his next at-bat, he homered deep to right-center field before walking in the seventh in his final at-bat against Odorizzi. More >

Video: [email protected]: Odorizzi strikes out eight over 6 2/3

Severino in style: The 21-year-old rookie continues to provide the Yankees with quality starts and did not buckle with runners in scoring position, working out of trouble in three of his first four frames without permitting a run. Severino is continuing to show why the Yankees have referred to his demeanor as "fearless," and mature beyond his years in just his sixth big league start.

"[I have] a lot of confidence," Severino said. "Every time I touch the mound, my team makes me be comfortable." More >

Video: [email protected]: Severino's strikes out five over 6 1/3

Longo gone: After hitting two home runs in Wednesday night's game against the Orioles, Longoria continued his power streak with a solo home run in the sixth off Severino. Longoria's 18th homer of the season gave him one more than he hit in 2014 with 28 games left in the season. It was Longoria's 14th career homer at the current Yankee Stadium, second only to Jose Bautista (15) among visiting players.

Video: [email protected]: Longo goes deep to get Rays on the board

"A little bit of a strange pitching duel, I guess. Seemed like we got the hits and couldn't get anybody across. And [Odorizzi] didn't give up anything. The ones he did left the ballpark."
-- Rays manager Kevin Cash

Since entering the league in 2008, Longoria's 29 home runs against the Yankees are tied for the most against them, while his 85 RBIs lead the Major Leagues over that span.

Jacoby Ellsbury left Friday's game after the fourth inning with what the Yankees announced was an "upset stomach." Ellsbury was 0-for-2. More >

Video: [email protected]: Broadcast discuss Ellsbury's exit

Rays: Matt Moore (1-3, 8.78 ERA) will start on Saturday, making his second return to the Rays this season. The left-hander returned from Tommy John surgery on July 2 to make the first of six starts that saw him go 1-3 with an 8.78 ERA. The Rays sent him to Triple-A Durham, where he went 2-1 with a 3.30 ERA in five starts. This will be his first outing since returning to the team. He is 3-1 with a 4.81 ERA in five career starts at Yankee Stadium.

Yankees: Nathan Eovaldi (14-2, 4.17 ERA) leads the Majors with an .875 winning percentage, something he will try to improve on when he faces the Rays on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Eovaldi is 9-0 with a 3.32 ERA in 13 starts since June 20, having enjoyed success in large part due to an improved splitter. He lost to the Rays on May 12 at Tropicana Field, his only career start against Tampa Bay.

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Bryan Hoch is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Bill Chastain is a reporter for