ST. PETERSBURG (WDAE) -- For just the second time this season, the Tampa Bay Rays have lost a series to an opponent, as the New York Yankees used a three-batter stretch in the fifth to take the lead, and then scored five runs in the final two innings to run away with a 7-1 decision in the rubber match of the weekend series Sunday at Tropicana Field.
Both Rays starter Blake Snell and Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka started the contest strong. Snell struck out seven of the first nine batters he faced, while Tanaka allowed an infield hit to Ji-Man Choi in the first and a base hit to Avisail Garcia in the second.
Snell cruised until a three-batter stretch in the fifth, as Austin Romine doubled to left-center with two out in the inning, scoring on a two-base hit by Mike Tauchman, and DJ LeMahieu followed with a base hit that scored Tauchman to make it a 2-0 game.
Tampa Bay got to within a run in the bottom of the sixth, when Austin Meadows hit his eighth home run of the year and second of the weekend since returning from the injured list.
New York re-established a two-run lead in the eighth, as Luke Voit drew a leadoff walk from Ryne Stanek, moving to second on a single by Brett Gardner two batters later. But when Tampa Bay could not turn a double play on a ground ball by Miguel Andujar, it allowed Voit to score on a wild pitch from Stanek and make it a 3-1 game.
Even then, the Rays would not go away quietly, as Meadows and Tommy Pham each singled off reliever Zach Britton with one out in the eighth, and both would end up in scoring position after a wild pitch. But the left-hander would stiffen, and strike out both Choi and Yandy Diaz to leave the tying runs on second and third.
Austin Pruitt would see the power go out as he was preparing to begin the top of the ninth, and 43 minuts later when it returned, so did New York's bats, as Thairo Estrada made it 4-1 with a solo home run. New York then loaded the bases on singles by Romine and Tauchman and an intentional walk to Voit, with Gio Urshela driving in a pair with a double, and Gardner set the score at 7-1 with a sacrifice fly.
Tampa Bay drops back to one game in the loss column ahead of the Yankees for the lead in the American League East.
Tampa Bay Rays (24-15) at Miami Marlins (10-29), 7:10 pm first pitch, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 6:00 with The Inside Pitch.
Rays starter: RHP Charie Morton (3-0, 2.64 ERA)
Marlins starter: LHP Caleb Smith (3-0, 2.11 ERA)