ST. PETERSBURG — As Nathan Karns began Wednesday's game for the Rays by throwing ball after ball, nine straight as he put the first two Yankees on, there was one primary thought running though his mind."Better throw a strike sometime soon,'' he said. "That was about it.''Much like Chris Archer the night before, Karns struggled mightily at the start, put the Rays behind early but did well to limit the damage to a pair of runs."Deja vu,'' manager Kevin Cash said.And much like Tuesday, it was deja vu all over again, as the Rays rallied and hung on to win another tense game against the first-place Yankees, this time 3-2.On the bench in the ninth inning, Cash and pitching coach Jim Hickey commiserated."We were saying these last two ballgames, if you would've known beforehand how the first two innings were going to play out and to come away with two wins, I don't know if many people would have predicted that,'' Cash said.But that's how these Rays have been, six weeks into a season marred by injuries to a lengthy list of top players, yet always battling. Before a gathering of 11,924, a slight increase from the previous two nights of record lows for Yankees games, they improved to 19-16 and got within two games of first place while dealing the Yankees their first back-to-back losses in a month.Like Archer, Karns deserved some of the credit for overcoming the rough first, in which four of the first five Yankees reached and he threw 29 pitches, then wriggling out of trouble in the second and getting through five innings.After getting a cheer from the crowd for his first strike on pitch 10, Karns said he settled down a bit when he got Alex Rodriguez to pop out for the first out and more so after escaping the two-on, one-out threat in the second, similar to what Archer did."I just kind of took one out of his book and tried my best to duplicate that,'' Karns said.Cash went to the bullpen in the sixth and got quality work again. Lefty Xavier Cedeno ("The guy's been unbelievable,'' Cash said) and Brandon Gomes bridged two innings, then Kevin Jepsen handled the eighth and Brad Boxberger the ninth for his 10th save in 10 chances.Meanwhile, the Rays came back. Steven Souza Jr. struck first in the first with his team-leading sixth home run, a loud, 435-foot blast to center. Then they got two in the second. Logan Forsythe doubled and Asdrubal Cabrera made his 1,000th career hit count with a double to deliver the tying run. Joey Butler followed with a bloop single to right that Cabrera read well and scored on to make it 3-2.Centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier also lent a hand, throwing out Mark Teixeira at the plate to keep the Yankees from tying in the fifth.With two on, two out and Carlos Beltran at the plate, Kiermaier said he decided to move in a few steps, noticing that Teixiera had a good secondary lead and figuring Beltran has "got to hit it really good to get it over my head.''That move, and a quick adjustment to a four-seam grip to prevent his throw from tailing up the line, made the difference, as did a good catch and tag by catcher Bobby Wilson to get the out, which withstood the obligatory challenge on the plate-blocking rule."Probably the play of the game,'' Cash said.Especially the way it started. Contact Marc Topkin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Rays.