- Last Updated: 12:11 PM, July 5, 2012
- Posted: 12:32 AM, July 5, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Thanks to their best player delivering a big hit in the clutch, the Yankees waltzed out of Tropicana Field Wednesday without having to answer questions about not being able to win inside the grim cement structure.
On a day when multiple Yankees said Rays ace David Price was as good as they have ever seen the lefty, Robinson Cano’s two-run, bases-loaded single off gas-throwing lefty Jake McGee in the eighth inning lifted the Yankees to a crucial 4-3 Fourth of July win in front of 28,033.
The victory stopped a nine-game losing streak inside the dreary Trop and dropped the Rays 6 ½ games behind the AL East leaders. Furthermore, coupled with the Red Sox losing to the A’s, the Yankees barge into Fenway Park Friday night for a four-game series with a comfortable 7 ½-game cushion over their blood rivals.
“Every win is big. You want to get the monkey off your back,’’ said Cano, a .192 (15-for-78) hitter with runners in scoring position and a .077 (1-for-13) hitter with the bases loaded when he faced McGee, the owner of a 97-mph fastball from the left side. “That’s what you want, win one and get it over with.’’
Former Yankee Kyle Farnsworth fueled the three-run eighth by issuing four walks, including a bases-loaded pass to Alex Rodriguez.
Boone Logan, who gave up a two-run homer to Carlos Pena in the seventh that snapped a 1-1 tie, was the winner. David Robertson worked the eighth and Rafael Soriano recorded the final three outs for his 19th save.
Until Mark Teixeira swatted a 95-mph fastball from Price leading off the seventh, it appeared the run the Rays scored off David Phelps in the fourth was going to be enough.
“He was as good as I have ever seen him,’’ said Teixeira, who flied out in the first and grounded out in the fourth. “He had great stuff and was almost unhittable.’’
Price, who didn’t give up a hit until Cano’s leadoff single in the fifth, went seven innings, surrendered a run and four hits.
“It was the best curveball I have seen from him and you add it to the other stuff, he had no-hit stuff today, he really did,’’ manager Joe Girardi said.
Phelps, who subbed for CC Sabathia, allowed a run, two hits, walked three, hit two and fanned eight in 4 ¹/₃ innings.
“This is a tremendous win for us,’’ said Girardi, whose club arrives at the halfway mark with a 49-32 ledger. “It has been a tough place for us in the first half of the season.’’
After getting swept in a season-opening three-game series, the Yankees lost Monday and Tuesday when they flushed two leads in each loss. They lost their final four games at Tampa Bay last season as well.
Girardi said he was impressed with the patience displayed by his hitters in the eighth when Farnsworth, appearing in his second game this season, was all over the place.
“They kept trying to get on and never stopped,’’ Girardi said.
Farnsworth walked four of the five batters he faced and thought he had Rodriguez struck out. Instead, a walk forced in a run and brought McGee to face Cano.
“You feel very good,’’ Girardi said of having Cano hitting with the bases loaded and down a run.
And better about not having to wonder why the best team in baseball’s toughest division can’t win in a building even the Rays would love to see vanish.