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Rays hand reeling Yankees 17th loss in 23 games

Julio Aguilar / Getty Images Sport / Getty

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — By the end of the first inning, the tone was set for another long night for the sputtering New York Yankees.

All-Star Isaac Paredes hit a three-run homer and the Tampa Bay Rays held off their struggling AL East rivals 5-3 Tuesday night, handing the Yankees a 17th loss in 23 games. Since starting a major league-best 50-22 through mid-June, New York has the worst record in baseball over the past three weeks.

"We know we're better than this, right? Everyone saw what we could do at our best," rookie first-baseman Ben Rice said. "So, I think it's just a matter of time before we dig ourselves out."

Paredes went deep during a four-run first inning against Carlos Rodón (9-7). Right-hander Ryan Pepiot (5-5) limited one of baseball's best offenses to one run and four hits over 5 2/3 innings, and Tampa Bay won despite only having two hits after the third inning.

"It's never easy to play from behind but no, you can't look at it that way. That's defeatism. ... We got to get after it," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "Of course we want to run out to a big lead, but don't look at it that way. You just got to keep playing and keep trying to string together quality at bats."

Three days after becoming the first Yankees rookie to homer three times in a game, Rice hit a two-run shot that trimmed Tampa Bay's lead to 4-3 in the seventh inning. The Rays scored on Johnny DeLuca's eighth-inning double for a two-run cushion before things got dicey again in the ninth.

DJ LeMahieu singled with one out, bringing Rice to the plate as the potential tying run. But Pete Fairbanks met the challenge, striking out Rice and getting Juan Soto to fly out to the warning track in center field for his 15th save in 17 opportunities.

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said before the game that "there's concern" about the way the team has been playing lately. He's with the team for the start of a six-game trip that includes a weekend series at Baltimore because "it's my job to be in a position to never assume anything."

"It's been a struggle, obviously. Thankfully we got out of the gates really strong, so hopefully that cushion will allow us to work through this hopefully sooner than later on because it's gone on long enough," Cashman said.

New York started quickly with Gleyber Torres, back in the lineup after missing two games with right groin tightness, delivering a RBI single off Pepiot in the first inning.

Rodón, though, continued to struggle in losing his fifth straight start. The lefty yielded four consecutive hits to begin the game, including Paredes' 15th homer of the season. It was also the 15th homer yielded by Yankees pitching over their last seven games.

Although Rodón, who's given up 28 runs while only working 23 innings during his losing streak, settled to keep the Yankees within striking distance, the New York offense was mostly silent until Rice homered off Colin Poche to trim Tampa Bay's lead to 4-3.

"It has not been fun, that's for sure. Just not really giving my team a chance to win early," Rodón said. "It's been really frustrating."

Pepiot, meanwhile, weathered his shaky first inning to snap a career-high three-game losing streak with his first victory since June 4.

"He didn't have his best command, kind of pitching around the contact a little bit, maybe didn't have the feel for the pitches, but he made a tremendous adjustment after that first inning," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.


Yankees: Manager Aaron Boone said DH Giancarlo Stanton (strained left hamstring) could be ready for game-type activity right after the All-Star break. Stanton has been on the IL since June 23.

Rays: Minor-league infield prospect Junior Caminero hit a three-run homer in four at-bats in his first rehab game with the rookie-level FCL Rays. He hadn't played since May 28 with Triple-A Durham due to a quadriceps injury.


Right-hander Marcus Stroman (7-4, 3.58 ERA) starts the second game of the three-game series for New York on Tuesday night. Right-hander Zach Eflin (5-5, 4.19) starts for the Rays.


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