PROBLEM DIAGNOSED: Second baseman Brent Abernathy returned to the lineup after sitting the previous two games so he could work with hitting coach Milt May.
With May's help, Abernathy discovered he was putting too much weight on the backs of his heels.
"You can't hit from that position," said Abernathy, who was in a 3-for-48 slump before going 3-for-5 on Friday. "I've fallen into that habit before. I don't know when it actually started taking place, but obviously things have been pretty ugly here for me of late. I need to get some stuff squared away here pretty quickly."
MINOR MATTER: Second-round draft pick Jason Pridie, who is playing at Princeton (W.Va.), had a 20-game hitting streak snapped against Johnson City. He went 0-for-3 and was walked intentionally in his last at-bat.
A LONG TIME: Friday night's game was the first of 11 in 11 days against the Yankees, Orioles and White Sox, the Rays' longest homestand of the season. The Rays are 0-6-2 in the past eight series. The last one they won was June 28-30 when they took two of three from the visiting Marlins.
RAYS BITS: A silent auction of Rays items will run through the fourth inning at Gate 3; proceeds go to the Tampa Bay Rays of Hope Foundation. Three Rays will be in the stands behind first base and one in the Beach to sign autographs from 4:55-5:25 p.m.
_ KEVIN KELLY, BRUCE LOWITT, MARC TOPKIN