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Rays beat Yanks, take over 1st place

Manager Joe Maddon said Jonny Gomes has the "green light" on the basepaths. And the hustling outfielder took advantage Tuesday night.

Gomes, pinch-running for Cliff Floyd with no outs in the 11th against the Yankees, stole second base, and then scored on a single up the middle by Gabe Gross, lifting the Rays to a dramatic, 2-1 win at the Trop, which puts them in sole possession of first place in the AL East.

The Rays (23-16) have now won 11 straight home games, and moved .5 game ahead of the Red Sox (24-18), who lost to Baltimore Tuesday night.

RHP Edwin Jackson delivered another spectacular start, throwing seven shutout innings against the Yankees - pushing his scoreless streak to 15 frames. He handed a 1-0 lead (thanks to an Eric Hinske RBI single) to the Rays typically trusty bullpen, but veteran closer Troy Percival gave up a solo homer to Hideki Matsui in the top of the ninth.

The win came in front of 16,558 heavily Rays-partisan fans.

The Rays take their five-game winning streak into play tonight again against the Yankees.
INF Ben Zobrist was activated and will go right back into the super-utility role the Rays envisioned for him in the spring before he fractured his left thumb. That means he could be used at any of the four infield positions as well as in the outfield. Manager Joe Maddon even went so far as to say that he would consider starting Zobrist in rightfield against a lefthander - with Jonny Gomes as the DH.

Rocco Baldelli went through an extensive workout and said he was still seeking medical help to get past the muscle fatigue problems that have sidelined him, but that he still hopes to return to the field.
"I'm hitting BP, I'm throwing and stuff, it just depends on if I'm going to be able to do it every day,'' Baldelli said. "But as of now I feel real good.''

A decision on activating RHP Al Reyes had not been made as of 6 p.m., so it sounds like it will be after the game at the earliest. RHP Scott Dohmann seems most likely to go.

As for tonight's lineups:

Iwamura, 2b
Crawford, lf
Upton, cf
Pena, 1b
Longoria, 3b
Floyd, dh
Hinske, rf
Navarro, c
Bartlett, ss
Jackson, rhp

Damon, dh
Jeter, ss
Abreu, rf
Matsui, lf
Giambi, 1b
Cabrera, cf
Cano, 2b
Gonzalez, 3b
Molina, c
Wang, rhp

[Last modified: Monday, December 21, 2009 12:35am]


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