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Rays' mistakes costly

The difference in payrolls for the Yankees' and Rays' starting lineups was roughly $73-million. The difference in the American League East standings, more than 30 games.

Neither figure mattered much during Friday's game.

It was the season-high tying 10 walks issued by Rays pitchers and the missed opportunities with runners on base that turned a competitive game into an ugly 12-9 loss against the Yankees before 22,527, the second-largest crowd of the season at Tropicana Field.

New York sent its entire batting order to the plate in the fourth and seventh innings, scoring four runs each time, and improved to 9-1 against the Rays this season.

Tampa Bay, which has lost six consecutive at home, outhit the Yankees 17-10 but stranded runners in scoring position in five innings.

The most critical failures, other than the fact five of the 10 Yankees who walked eventually scored?

The Rays trailed 4-3 and 5-4 in the fifth and sixth innings with runners on and failed to get the tying run home.

Tampa Bay took a 1-0 lead early.

Centerfielder Randy Winn reached on a two-out infield single in the third and stole his 21st base this season before third baseman Andy Sheets drove him home with a single to leftfield.

Sheets has at least one hit in five of six games since the Rays selected him from Triple-A Durham on July 20.

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 third baseman Robin Ventura in the second.

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

The Rays pulled to within 4-3 in the fifth inning thanks to a double by shortstop Chris Gomez, a run-scoring triple by rookie Carl Crawford and a run-scoring single to center by Winn, who finished with three hits.

But the Yankees distanced themselves in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings.

Sosa loaded the bases with a single and two walks before being relieved by Travis Phelps. Phelps hit Mondesi to force home Yankees 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 while striking out five and walking five.

Mussina was pulled after the sixth inning. 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, and two more in the eighth. Ventura hit a two-run homer to rightfield to make it 11-7. Mondesi homered in the ninth.

The Rays made it interesting in the ninth by scoring two off Yankees right-hander Steve Karsay. But Crawford struck out to end it.