ST. PETERSBURG — Rays first baseman Jake Bauers sat at his locker after Sunday afternoon's 7-6, 12-inning win over the Yankees and thumbed through his text messages. There was no way he could get through them all. That's what happens when you hit a walkoff home run against the Yankees.
"Yes, my phone is blowing up,'' Bauers said.
Bauers led off the 12th inning by plastering the first pitch from reliever Chasen Shreve into the right centerfield gap. Centerfielder Aaron Hicks gave chase but the ball cleared the 370 sign to give the Rays a three-game sweep and their fourth straight win over the Yankees.
It's the first time this season the Yankees have lost three straight games. It's also the sixth straight home win for the Rays (37-40).
"I still can't catch my breath,'' Bauers said. "That's something you only dream of and I had the chance to do it. It's a crazy feeling.''
It was a pretty crazy game played in front of 23,667 at Tropicana Field, the third straight large crowd to turn out.
Both starting pitchers didn't last long. The Rays touched up Yankees starter Domingo German for nine hits and six runs in three innings. Matt Andriese was the Rays starter in a designated "bullpen'' day and he lasted three innings and gave up three runs.
In the Rays' first, Kevin Kiermaier led off with a triple on the first pitch. Matt Duffy followed with a double and just like that the Rays were up 1-0. Carlos Gomez contributed a two-out single that scored Duffy and made it 2-0.
The Yankees got those runs right back in the top of the second. Miguel Andujar hit a three-run homer with one out to make it 3-2. Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria made sure that lead didn't last long when he hit a solo homer in the bottom of the second, his third this season.
The Rays weren't done hitting in the third. Gomez came up with another RBI single with one out. With two outs, Jesus Sucre doubled down the leftfield line to score Gomez and Mallex Smith and make it 6-3.
The Yankees (50-25) then went to their bullpen, and the Rays didn't get another hit until Bauers ended it. Adam Warren, Jonathan Holder, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Chad Green held the Rays hitless through the 11th inning while the Yankees chipped away.
"Their bullpen is really special and we needed our bullpen to buy some time,'' Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "They did that.''
The Yankees got two in the fifth off relievers Jose Alvarado and Diego Castillo on RBIs from Didi Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton. The Rays' tenuous 6-5 lead lasted until the eighth. That's when Stanton hit a deep home run to leftfield off Vidal Nuno that tied it at 6.
Nuno went four innings and gave up one run.
Sergio Romo pitched two scoreless innings. Jonny Venters came on the 12th but left after one batter due to a hamstring injury. Ryan Yarbrough was pressed into action and got through the 12th when the Yankees stranded a runner at third base. Overall, the Rays used seven pitchers.
Cash was impressed with his bullpen, especially the four innings Nuno pitched after not throwing since June 14.
"He gave us an unbelievable performance,'' Cash said. "He kept us in the ball game. I know he gave up the home run to Stanton, but the way he navigated through that lineup speaks volumes for how he prepares.''
With the bullpen hanging tough, Bauers was able to bat in the 12th. His home run was the second since he was called up on June 7.
"I was just trying to get on base,'' Bauers said. "I know it sounds cliche, but I really wasn't trying to do too much. With that swing, good things happen.
"It's indescribable. Everyone battled their butts off. To come out on top in a game like that, I think it's only going to help us.''
This was the first time in 12 games that the Rays have scored more than four runs. They held the Yankees to just one run in the previous two games, then won Sunday's slugfest in which New York also had 10 hits.
Stanton was especially tough, going 5-for-5 with a home run, a double and three singles. He was also intentionally walked in the 12th inning. But that didn't matter thanks to Bauers and the bullpen.
"It's always nice to beat the Yankees,'' Hechavarria said through an interpreter. "It's good that they are leaving here a little frustrated.''