Rays' Cobb shuts down Yankees in 8-3 win
ST. PETERSBURG – Rays righthander Alex Cobb shut down the Yankees in an impressive 8 1/3 inning performance Sunday before the struggling Tampa Bay bullpen made it interesting in an 8-3 win in front of 24,159 at Tropicana Field.
With the victory, the Rays (25-24) avoided a three-game sweep and pulled back to within five games of the first-place Yankees (30-19).
Cobb (6-2) came three outs away from a complete-game shutout, but he gave up a solo homer to Brett Gardner to lead off the ninth, and was pulled with one out and one on after 113 pitches, matching a season-high longest outing. Cobb was charged with two runs on five hits, striking out eight.
It would take two relievers to get the final two outs, as lefty Cesar Ramos struggled, giving up two walks and a two-run double before getting replaced by Joel Peralta, who struck out two while stranding two on base.
The Rays had broken the game open against New York ace lefty CC Sabathia with a three-run sixth, thanks to an RBI triple by Yunel Escobar and two-run homer by first baseman James Loney. Sabathia (4-4) allowed a season-high seven runs and seven hits over seven innings, and is winless in his last five starts.
Cobb, whose start was pushed up a day to face the Yankees, was brilliant, retiring 18 of the first 19 he faced. The Yankees got their first hit in the third in controversial fashion, with Jayson Nix reaching on an infield single on a close play at first. Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano added a no-doubt single to center to start the seventh, and Ichiro Suzuki hit a triple in the eighth when his sinking liner got under the glove of a diving Rays centerfielder Desmond Jennings.
Cobb, who threw 8 1/3 shutout innings against the Yankees April 24 at the Trop, gave up hits to two of the first three hitters he faced before exiting, receiving a standing ovation.