NEW YORK — After losing the first two games against the Yankees, manager Kevin Cash said the Rays badly needed a win Saturday.
Instead, they had another bad day, losing 5-4 on a bases-loaded walkoff single by Brett Gardner in the ninth.
Brad Boxberger got the ninth off to a bad start, walking Chase Headley after being ahead 0-and-2. Pinch-runner Jacoby Ellsbury then swiped second. Then Boxberger hit Todd Frazier, and it got worse from there when the Rays didn't take the out the Yankees were giving them as Ronald Torreyes placed a bunt between Boxberger and third baseman Tim Beckham to load the bases.
The Rays turned then to newcomer Dan Jennings, and Gardner singled up the middle to end it.
The third straight loss dropped the Rays to 53-52, as they haven't done much to show thanks to the front office for acquiring four veterans over the past week.
What made it worse Saturday was that the Rays had their chances.
The Rays took the lead right away. Peter Bourjos lashed the second pitch from Yankees rookie starter Caleb Smith over the left-centerfield wall, and there was some back and forth from there.
The Yankees tied it in the second when Gary Sanchez led off with a double, moved to third on a groundout and scored on a sac fly.
The Rays went back ahead in the third on a sac fly by Lucas Duda that scored Bourjos, though they had the chance for more with the bases loaded and one out.
The Yankees tied it again when Sanchez led off the fourth with a long and loud homer off Rays starter Blake Snell.
The Rays went ahead for a third time when Steven Souza Jr. laced a ball down the leftfield line and stood near home plate watching to see that it indeed stayed fair.
Snell took the Rays into the sixth, allowing a leadoff single then getting Didi Gregorius out on a fly to left on his 95th pitch of the day, and Cash decided that was enough. Cash brought in Sergio Romo to face pinch-hitter Headley. And Headley, who hadn't homered since June 12, lashed a two-run shot to left.
Then it was the Rays' turn to come back, and the newly acquired Duda took care of that with a long homer in the top of the eighth to make it 4-4.
The Rays wrap up this series with the Yankees on Sunday afternoon with rookie Jake Faria facing lefty Jordan Montgomery, then head to Houston for a four-game series starting Monday with the American League-leading Astros.
Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected]. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.