Rays top Yankees to move into first

Braves keep pace with the Phillies

Associated Press / September 14, 2010

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Reid Brignac homered on a full count leading off the bottom of the 11th inning last night, sending the Tampa Bay Rays into first place in the AL East with a 1-0 victory over the New York Yankees in St. Petersburg, Fla.

“It’s unbelievable. You feel like you’re floating on clouds,’’ Brignac said, describing the trip around the bases and celebration at home plate. “I had a couple of walkoffs in the minors, but nothing like this.’’

Brignac connected off Sergio Mitre (0-3), the fourth Yankees reliever that followed CC Sabathia, who pitched eight scoreless innings in pursuit of his major league-leading 20th win.

Grant Balfour (2-1) pitched one inning to get the win for the Rays.

The Yankees have lost a season-high four straight and managed just four hits — three off 17-game winner David Price — as the teams began a stretch in which they’ll meet seven times over 11 days.

“We’ve got to bounce back. We’ve had three tough losses on this road trip, really tough losses,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “But this is a team with a lot of character, and we’ll bounce back.’’

With first place and baseball’s best record on the line, Sabathia and Price were at their best. The lefthanders are the top two winners in the AL and showed why, with neither allowing a runner past second base.

Sabathia, who walked two and struck out nine over eight innings, limited the Rays to Kelly Shoppach’s third-inning single until Sean Rodriguez opened the eighth with a sharp grounder into center field for Tampa Bay’s second hit.

After hitting Shoppach with a pitch to put runners at first and second with one out, the Yankees ace struck out B.J. Upton and got Jason Bartlett to ground into a force play to send a scoreless game to the ninth.

Price, second in the AL with 17 wins, gave up three hits, walked two, and struck out four over eight innings. He kept the game even, working out of a jam in the seventh by getting Alex Rodriguez to pop to second and Marcus Thames to fly to center after Robinson Cano singled and Mark Teixeira walked with one out.

Phillies 11, Marlins 4 — Carlos Ruiz matched a career-high with four RBIs, Joe Blanton gave up one run in six innings, and Philadelphia continued its September sizzle beating host Florida.

Ruiz, Jayson Werth, Chase Utley, and Greg Dobbs all homered for the NL East-leading Phillies, who are 10-3 in September. The Phillies remained a game ahead of Atlanta.

Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard reached the 100-RBI mark for the fifth straight season, while Werth and Utley each scored twice. Blanton (7-6) struck out eight and walked two, dropping his ERA to 5.00, the lowest it has been since May 8.

Braves 4, Nationals 0 — Derek Lowe set a career high with 12 strikeouts and combined with Billy Wagner on a six-hitter to lead host Atlanta.

The Braves remained one game behind the first-place Phillies in the NL East.

Lowe (13-12) earned an ovation from the small crowd of 18,647 with his 1,500th career strikeout against Ian Desmond in the fourth. Lowe struck out Wilson Ramos in the eighth for his 12th of the game.

Lowe gave up six hits and no walks in eight innings.

Reds 7, Diamondbacks 2 — Jay Bruce returned from a two-week layoff and homered in each of his first two at-bats, and host Cincinnati homered five times in all during a victory over the Diamondbacks that secured its first winning season since 2000.

The Reds’ nine-year streak of losing seasons was their longest in a half-century. With each win, the NL Central leaders close in on another breakthrough — their first playoff appearance since 1995.

Bronson Arroyo (15-10) gave up a pair of solo homers in six innings while reaching 15 wins for the third straight season.

Cubs 5, Cardinals 1 — Jeff Samardzija pitched shutout ball in his first major league start this season and drove in a run to lead Chicago past host St. Louis.

The Cardinals fell seven games behind first-place Cincinnati in the NL Central. The Reds beat Arizona and reduced their magic number to 13 for clinching the division title.

Samardzija (1-1) filled in admirably for Carlos Silva, scratched due to pain in his pitching elbow. In his first big league appearance since April 19, the former Notre Dame football star gave up six hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked four and struck out one.

Padres 6, Rockies 4 — Miguel Tejada tied a season high with four RBIs to help San Diego remain on top of the NL West, halting the host Rockies’ 10-game winning streak. The Padres have a half-game lead over San Francisco.

Tejada hit a two-run homer in the first inning and drove in two more runs with a two-out single in the fifth.

Athletics 3, Royals 1 — Bobby Cramer, a former substitute teacher who started this season in the Mexican League, won his big league debut by pitching Oakland over host Kansas City.

Cramer held the Royals to one run and four hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked one.

Astros 4, Brewers 2 — Brett Myers became the eighth pitcher in 90 years to throw six or more innings in 30 consecutive starts, Carlos Lee drove in the go-ahead run in the seventh inning, and Houston beat visiting Milwaukee.

Orioles 4, Blue Jays 3 — Luke Scott singled in the winning run in the 11th inning, and host Baltimore ended a 12-game losing streak against Toronto.

Mets 1, Pirates 0 — Pinch-hitter Nick Evans singled home the winning run off Chan Ho Park in the 10th inning, giving host New York the win.


■Flu-like symptoms forced the Brewers’ Prince Fielder out of the lineup, ending his streak of playing in 327 consecutive games.

■Bobby Cramer, who turns 31 next month, became the oldest pitcher in Athletics franchise history to make a start in his big league debut since Steve Gerkin for the Philadelphia A’s May 13, 1945.

■The Marlins’ Dan Uggla became the first second baseman in major league history to hit 30 home runs in four consecutive seasons. Only four other second basemen have had three seasons of 30 homers or more: Rogers Hornsby (1922, 1925, 1929), Jeff Kent (1998, 2000, 2002), Alfonso Soriano (2002, 2003, 2005), and the Phillies’ Chase Utley (2006, 2008, 2009). Uggla has 151 home runs in five major league seasons, all with the Marlins.

â– Nick Swisher (bone bruise on his left knee) and Brett Gardner (sore right wrist) of the Yankees were out of the lineup.

■The Padres’ Scott Hairston was scratched from the lineup because of a sore left shoulder.

■The Orioles’ Brian Roberts was hit by a pitch near his right knee in the eighth inning and replaced in the ninth.

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