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Rays beat Yankees, tie Boston for wild card

Sep 27, 2011 - 5:17 AM St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - The Tampa Bay Rays keep doing their part to win the AL wild card, but their fate is also riding on games being played 1,000 miles away.

Like it has so many times over the past few weeks, everything went their way again.

The Rays tied Boston for the wild card lead Monday night, beating the New York Yankees 5-2 behind eight-plus innings from James Shields and a couple of hits from B.J. Upton, including a two-run double.

Tampa Bay entered the game trailing Boston by one game for the AL wild card lead and pulled even after the Red Sox lost to the Orioles in Baltimore.

The games finished within moments of each other -- Kyle Farnsworth got Jesus Montero to ground out, ending Tampa Bay's win, and the Rays were able to watch Jed Lowrie strike out to end Boston's 6-3 loss.

"The guys are into it," said Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon.

Indeed, on the same day Major League Baseball worked out what would happen in the event of a tie for the AL and NL wild card, the Rays and Red Sox conspired to give them exactly that.

Leaving both teams with what amounts to a two-game season.

The Rays will play their games against the AL East-champion Yankees, while Boston remains in Baltimore to finish its season.

The Red Sox would seem to have an advantage playing the basement-dwelling Orioles, but they've had trouble getting out of their own way during a 6-19 September.

Tampa Bay, meanwhile, has won four of its last five to pull even in a race that looked weeks ago like it would be won by someone else.

"It's definitely an exciting time for us," said catcher Kelly Shoppach, who hit a solo homer in the fourth inning for a 4-2 lead.

Shields (16-12) was one out from a complete game when Maddon pulled him for Kyle Farnsworth with a runner on first.

The 29-year-old righty snapped a personal two-game losing streak, giving up six hits and three walks with four strikeouts, and the Rays won despite having two runners thrown out at home plate on double plays in the first three innings.

Rays left fielder Desmond Jennings ran down a Derek Jeter fly ball and made a highlight-reel diving catch at the warning track for the first out of the fifth inning. Sliding toward the wall, Jennings kept control of the ball as it snow-coned toward the top of his glove.

"One of the best (catches) I've seen," said teammate Evan Longoria.

Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the first inning and an RBI single in the third for the Yankees, who did the Rays a favor by beating Boston in the first two games of their weekend series. The Red Sox won Sunday's doubleheader nightcap on Jacoby Ellsbury's three-run homer in the 14th.

The Yankees won three of four against the Rays last week, including a doubleheader sweep on Wednesday that locked up their 17th AL East title. They took a 1-0 lead Monday on Robinson Cano's two-out homer in the first inning, his 28th of the season.

Upton doubled with one down in the bottom of the inning and had a chance to tie the game for Tampa Bay after stealing third base. But he didn't slide to beat a throw home after Ben Zobrist's grounder and was tagged out easily on an inning-ending double play.

Brett Gardner singled to lead off the third and scored later on Cano's one-out single through the right side to make it 2-0. But the Rays took the lead in the bottom of the inning.

Upton tied the game with one swing, knocking his second double of the game down the third base line. He went to third on Longoria's single, which knocked rookie Hector Noesi (2-2) out of the game, and scored on Johnny Damon's base hit off reliever Raul Valdes for a 3-2 edge.

Damon was caught in a rundown trying to steal second, and the Yankees also got Longoria sliding at home plate for a strange double play to end the inning.

Shoppach belted his 11th homer of the season in the fourth to make it 4-2. Upton, Longoria and Zobrist drew three straight walks in the seventh and Damon hit a sacrifice fly to score the last run.

Noesi was making his second career MLB start -- he made his first against the Rays last Wednesday -- and allowed three runs on five hits in two-plus innings.

"We're playing to win," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I've got Bartolo (Colon) tomorrow and a loaded bullpen tomorrow. We're playing to win games, but I also have to pick time when I have to use my relievers. The one thing I don't want them to do is if you get in some long games Friday and Saturday I have to make sure they can go multiple innings."

Game Notes

Yankees catcher Russell Martin was ejected after exchanging words with home plate umpire Paul Schrieber in the fifth inning...Noesi was making another spot start in place of Phil Hughes, who has had back spasms.

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    Yankees 2, Rays 5  FinalSep 26 10:37 PM

  • Matt Joyce struck out swinging to end the inning.

    Yankees 2, Rays 5  End 7Sep 26 9:49 PM

  • Kelly Shoppach two-out, solo Home Run (11) to left. Reid Brignac due up.

    Yankees 2, Rays 4  Bot 4, 2 OutsSep 26 8:41 PM

  • Johnny Damon caught stealing second, Evan Longoria caught stealing home, catcher to short to first to catcher to end the inning.

    Yankees 2, Rays 3  End 3Sep 26 8:30 PM
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    Yankees 2, Rays 3  End 3Sep 26 8:30 PM

  • B.J. Upton double to left scored Reid Brignac and Desmond Jennings with none out. Runner on second and Evan Longoria due up.

    Yankees 2, Rays 2  Bot 3, 0 OutsSep 26 8:14 PM

  • Alex Rodriguez popped out to second on the infield fly rule. Runners on first and second and with two outs and Jorge Posada due up.

    Yankees 2, Rays 0  Top 3, 2 OutsSep 26 8:00 PM

  • Robinson Cano two-out, solo Home Run (28) to center. Alex Rodriguez due up.

    Yankees 1, Rays 0  Top 1, 2 OutsSep 26 7:16 PM

  • NEW YORK: 0
    TAMPA BAY: 0
    Top 1, 0 Outs

    Sep 26 7:11 PM
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    Yankees vs. RaysSep 26 11:06 AM

  • NEW YORK: 2
    TAMPA BAY: 5

    Sep 26 10:21 AM
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    Yankees vs. RaysMar 31 2:29 PM