For the second time in three days, the Tampa Bay Rays' relief pitching could not get the job done, as Chase Headley's two-run homer erased a one-run deficit, and Brett Gardner's RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the Yankees their third straight win over the Rays 5-4.
After Tampa Bay tied the game on Lucas Duda's 19th home run of the year and second in two games since being acquired from the New York Mets in the eighth, plus a five-pitch eighth from Tommy Hunter, the Rays turned to Brad Boxberger against the bottom of the New York batting order. But the right-hander started by walking Chase Headley. Pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury then stole second base and Boxberger ended up hitting Todd Frazier with a pitch. Ronald Torreyes then bunted to load the bases and Brett Gardner, facing Dan Jennings, singled to end the game.
The Rays started the scoring off Caleb Smith as Peter Bourjos led off the game with his fifth home run of the year.
New York tied the game in the bottom of the second with a sacrifice fly by Didi Gregorius, but Duda came up in the third with the bases loaded and one out and broke the tie with a sacrifice fly of his own, scoring Bourjos for a 2-1 lead.
Blake Snell's breaking ball was being hit hard by New York hitters, and Gary Sanchez took one in the fourth and deposited it in the seats for his 16th homer of the year to tie the game. But again, Tampa Bay answered, with Steven Souza Jr. jumping on an Adam Warren pitch in the top of the fifth and breaking the tie again with his 22nd homer.
Snell left with one out in the sixth after allowing a Matt Holliday leadoff single, but reliever Sergio Romo gave up a two-run homer to Headley to give New York a 4-3 lead.
Tampa Bay has dropped three straight to fall to a game above .500 at 53-52.
The Rays will need a win Sunday to avoid being swept in the Bronx, with Jake Faria (5-1, 2.67 ERA) taking on Jordan Montgomery (7-5, 3.92 ERA). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 11:00 with The Inside Pitch presented by Sykes Lakeland.