ST. PETERSBURG — The clubhouse erupted with a roar that could be heard outside the thick walls when Hank Conger finally made his way from the field early Saturday night after delaying the Rays' post-win celebration because of his TV and radio obligations.
Finally, the catcher who made the team because of his offense had a day when his offense was the story. As a result, he was the toast of the bash.
"I guess the celebration was kind of a knock on how long it took," Conger said. "But it felt good."
Conger led the Rays' 13-hit attack against the Yankees with his first three extra-base hits of the season — two doubles and a home run — in the Rays' 9-5 victory in front of 20,188 at Tropicana Field.
Conger's three-run homer in the fifth inning doubled his RBI output this season and gave the Rays a 9-1 lead.
"Obviously it's been a slow start for me," Conger said, "but even the past couple of days, the swing has been feeling pretty good, and (Saturday) it translated, so I just want to work off it from there."
The Rays (22-25) snapped a three-game losing streak, doing so with a season-high nine extra-base hits that included a season-high six doubles.
Conger entered the day in a 1-for-16 slump. His average sat at .153. He had just three RBIs in 59 at-bats. But he exploded against Yankees starter Michael Pineda, and it began when he flied out to rightfield in his first at-bat.
"(Conger) came in (the dugout) and said that's what he had been looking for, and his next three at-bats, it was definitely there," winning pitcher Matt Moore said. "That swing was something that stayed with him the whole game."
"It felt good," Conger said of that second-inning at-bat. "Sometimes I think, for me, just kind of pulling off on balls was kind of the culprit of some bad (at-bats) over the year. Just trying to stay through (the ball in) the first (at-bat); even with the flyout, I was fine with that."
In his next at-bat, Conger doubled for his first extra-base hit of the season. He homered his next time up and doubled again in the eighth. It was the seventh three-hit game of his career but the first when all three hits were for extra bases.
Evan Longoria, who drove in four runs with a sacrifice fly in the first inning, a two-run homer in the second and a single in the fourth, said it's tough for someone like Conger to have consistent success at the plate when he doesn't play every day. Saturday was Conger's third start in the past eight games and the first time he had started back-to-back games since May 18 and 20.
"For him (playing) two days in a row, he started swinging the bat well and finally started to see some results," Longoria said. "Really happy for him."