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A chance, but no win

The rookie came up with two outs in the ninth inning and a chance to tie the score with one swing.

"I was thinking home run all the way," Rays leftfielder Carl Crawford said. "I should've been trying to get a hit. But you only get one shot to hit the game-tying home run against the Yankees."

That Crawford struck out swinging in a 12-9 loss against New York on Friday at Tropicana Field mattered little.

That the Rays had such a chance, despite a season-high 10 walks issued by their pitchers, showed how much the club learned during its series against the Red Sox this week.

"I think that we realized, especially in the (second) game against Boston when we scored five in the ninth (and won), that it's never over until that last out is made," Tampa Bay second baseman Brent Abernathy said. "When you get guys on base, strange things can happen in this game. We did it again tonight. We gave ourselves a chance to win there in the last inning.

"I think in a game like tonight, that's pretty much all you can ask for."

Five of the 10 Yankees who walked scored before 22,527.

And while the Rays played from behind the majority of the game and squandered some chances with runners in scoring position, they outhit New York 17-10.

"We kept coming back," Rays manager Hal McRae said. "The guys that have to play (today) played well and that helps."

The Yankees batted around in the fourth and seventh innings, scoring four runs in each, and improved to 9-1 against the Rays this season.

Tampa Bay, which totaled 20 runs in nine games against New York before Friday, has lost six in a row at home.

"We kept battling back and battling back and didn't quit," Rays first baseman Steve Cox said. "That's a positive. But any time there's that amount of walks, it's tough. That's not a characteristic of this team. It just happened to be tonight."

After losing a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, the Rays closed within one in the fifth and sixth only to end both innings with runners on base.

New York led 5-4 after six and scored seven more in the final three. Third baseman Robin Ventura hit a two-run homer in the eighth and rightfielder Raul Mondesi homered in the ninth.

"It wasn't pretty," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "But the good point is we hit two home runs, knocked in some runs and did some good things offensively."

Pitching opposite Mike Mussina, Rays rookie starter Jorge Sosa cruised through the first three innings without allowing a run. He retired eight of the first nine batters, allowing a single to Ventura in the second.

"I didn't feel intimidated at all," Sosa said through an interpreter. "If other pitchers can get those (Yankees hitters) out, why can't I? I felt good."

But three walks and three base hits cost Sosa four runs in the fourth as New York took a 4-1 lead. Mondesi helped with a two-run double to left.

The Rays pulled within 4-3 in the fifth inning on a double by shortstop Chris Gomez, a run-scoring triple by Crawford and a run-scoring single to center by centerfielder Randy Winn.

In the sixth, however, Sosa loaded the bases with a single and two walks before being relieved by Travis Phelps. Phelps hit Mondesi to force home centerfielder Bernie Williams and make it 5-3 before striking out three in a row to end the inning.

Sosa pitched into the sixth inning for the fourth consecutive start. He allowed five runs, all earned, on five hits. He struck out five and walked five.

"He hung in there well," McRae said of Sosa.

Phelps, Victor Zambrano and Brandon Backe allowed seven runs on five hits and walked five over the final four innings.

Mussina was pulled after the sixth, and the Rays scored three in the seventh off relievers Mike Stanton and Ramiro Mendoza to make it 9-7. Mussina allowed four runs on nine hits, striking out four and walking one.

The Yankees added four runs in the seventh, highlighted by two-run singles by catcher Jorge Posada and leftfielder Rondell White, two in the eighth and one in the ninth.

"I thought we competed better today," McRae said. "That's what I ask of the guys to compete. Tonight we lost the game, but we competed. They knew we were out there."

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