NEW YORK (AP) — Brandon Lowe homered for the fifth time in six games, Austin Meadows also connected and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the AL East-leading New York Yankees 6-3 Tuesday night.
The second-place Rays cut their deficit to 1 1/2 games in the opener of this three-game set. Tampa Bay has won four of five in the season series.
“Overall just really encouraged by the entire offensive approach,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said.
Luke Voit hit his third homer in two days and Gary Sánchez also went deep, but New York ended a six-game winning streak and dropped to 10-1 at Yankee Stadium this season.
“They’ve beat us four out of five. It’s frustrating,” Voit said. “They’re a good team. They’ve got good pitching, good defense and they can hit a little bit.”
Kevin Kiermaier lined a one-out triple in the third inning and scored on a hit by nine-hole hitter Michael Perez. Meadows followed with a single, and then Lowe drilled a three-run shot to center off Masahiro Tanaka (0-1) for a 4-0 lead.
“Just hunting a mistake, trying to get something elevated against him,” Lowe said.
Lowe is batting .500 with 11 runs and 13 RBIs over his last seven games.
“I’ve been working my butt off for five years trying to get this swing to where it is and just really trying to understand my body and how to move efficiently and it’s been working out,” Lowe added.
Tanaka had difficulty locating his pitches and was hit hard, charged with six runs — five earned — and eight hits over four innings.
“I was trying to make adjustments throughout the game but I really couldn’t really find it. Just really didn’t have my command or control,” he said through a translator. “All in all, it wasn’t a good day.”
Blake Snell (2-0) entered the night 1-5 with a 5.82 ERA in 11 career starts at Yankee Stadium. The 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner worked around leadoff runners in the first three innings and got through the fifth, allowing three runs, four hits and two walks.
“Overall I think the off day, being locked down in a hotel and restricted from life, that definitely makes it harder,” Snell said. “I laid in a bed all day yesterday and I came here, didn’t really feel as good as I wanted to feel. Had to battle.”
Willy Adames scored on a passed ball by Sánchez in the fourth. Meadows went deep to lead off the fifth, chasing Tanaka.
Sánchez clubbed a solo shot in the fourth, his fifth of the year and fifth career homer against Snell.
Voit hit a two-run homer in the fifth, cutting the lead to 6-3 with his eighth of the season. The hulking first baseman started in the leadoff spot for the first time in his career as manager Aaron Boone shuffles a lineup missing injured stars Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu.
New York loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, but reliever Diego Castillo retired Voit and Gio Urshela to end the threat.
Nick Anderson and Chaz Roe combined for a scoreless eighth and ninth, with Roe converting his first save opportunity.
“We can match up pretty well once we have the lead and guys are rested, and tonight was a good sign of that,” Cash said of his bullpen.
The Yankees batted in the bottom of the ninth inning for the first time this season.
SHUFFLING THE DECK
The Rays acquired right-hander Edgar Garcia from Philadelphia for a player to be named later and signed free agent left-hander Dietrich Enns to a minor league contract. Both players will report to the club’s alternate site.
To make room, Tampa Bay designated infielder Daniel Robertson for assignment.
The Yankees recalled righty Nick Nelson from their alternate site, optioning fellow reliever Ben Heller. They also signed veteran shortstop Jordy Mercer to a minor league deal.
Nelson pitched three shutout frames.
Rays: LHP Jose Alvarado (left shoulder inflammation) saw a doctor in New York on Monday and will be shut down from throwing for at least 10-14 days. ... RHP Charlie Morton (right shoulder inflammation) threw a “pretty intense” bullpen Tuesday, according to Cash. The two-time All-Star will play catch Wednesday. ... RHP Oliver Drake (right biceps tendinitis) is expected to begin a throwing program shortly. ... LHP/DH Brendan McKay will have season-ending surgery on his left throwing shoulder Wednesday.
Yankees: Judge (strained right calf) took batting practice and could be activated for Saturday’s showdown with the crosstown Mets, the first day the slugger is eligible to return. ... C Kyle Higashioka (strained right oblique) continues to ramp up from a workload standpoint but is not expected back soon.
Rays: RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-1, 7.04 ERA) is winless in three career starts against the Yankees.
Yankees: RHP Gerrit Cole (4-0, 2.76 ERA) looks to extend a career-long 20-game winning streak.