New YORK – No matter which hitters the Tampa Bay Rays send up against Mariano Rivera, they hardly seem intimidated.
Joe Dillon hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning and the surging Rays touched up Rivera for the second time this season, beating the New York Yankees, 9-7, despite committing four errors Saturday.
B.J. Upton added an RBI single off the star closer, part of a four-run rally that carried the AL champions to their fourth consecutive victory and sixth in seven games.
“I just loved the way we kept fighting back,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
David Price left with a chance to beat CC Sabathia in a much-anticipated matchup pitting a potential ace against an established one. But the Yankees scored twice in the eighth against Tampa Bay’s bullpen, tying it, 5-5.
“After the team ties the game, it was tough to go out and do that,” Rivera said. “Especially when you know that you have the top of your lineup coming up. You just want to get three outs and then you look up and it’s four runs.”
Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist homered for the Rays, who doubled their previous season high for errors in a game. Three were wild throws by All-Star catcher Dioner Navarro.
Tampa Bay is 3-0 at the new Yankee Stadium, including an 8-6 victory May 7 when Rivera served up back-to-back homers for the first time in his career. Injury fill-ins Dillon and Ben Zobrist sparked the latest burst against Rivera.
“I think anytime you do something against a closer and you do it in recent memory, it gives you a little bit of confidence,” said Zobrist, who opened the inning with a triple.
Mark Teixeira homered in the eighth and hit a two-run double in the ninth for New York. Alex Rodriguez also went deep for the Yankees, who had won 17 out of 22.
Handed a 9-5 cushion, Rays reliever Dan Wheeler gave up three consecutive hits to start the ninth, then retired Rodriguez and Jorge Posada with Teixeira on second.
Ex-Yankee Randy Choate earned his third save in eight days – the first three of his major league career.
“One of the guys said to me, `’Only 491 more to go to catch Mo,”’ Choate said.
Dillon, a journeyman who was acquired from Oakland on May 9, had three hits in each of the past two games, matching his career high.