Series: Game 3 of 3

NY Yankees won 2-1

Game 1: Friday, May 28
NY Yankees7Final
Tampa Bay5
Game 2: Saturday, May 29
NY Yankees5Final
Tampa Bay3
Game 3: Sunday, May 30
NY Yankees6Final
Tampa Bay7

Yankees 6

(30-19, 17-12 away)

Devil Rays 7

(17-31, 14-14 home)

    1:15 PM ET, May 30, 2004

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

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    NYY 000000042 6 11 1
    TB 00031201 - 7 13 1

    W: V. Zambrano (5-4)

    L: J. Lieber (4-2)

    S: D. Baez (8)

    Yankees' six-game surge comes to an end

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Nothing comes easy for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays when they play the New York Yankees.

    Take Sunday for example, when they took a two-hitter and six-run lead into the seventh inning and barely held on for a 7-6 victory that stopped New York's six-game winning streak.

    "Just your typical one-run win at home," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella joked. "We found a way to let them back in it ... but it's nice beating that team. It really is."

    Aubrey Huff homered twice and drove in three runs, while Brook Fordyce hit a solo homer in the eighth that turned out to be the winning margin.

    The Devil Rays went 7-5 on a 12-game homestand and Piniella got career win 1,399 -- tying him for 23rd place with Hall of Famer Wilbert Robinson.

    "We bended a little bit," Fordyce said. "We didn't break."

    Victor Zambrano (5-4) beat the Yankees for the third time this season, limiting the defending AL champions to a pair of singles by Hideki Matsui until Enrique Wilson singled with one out in the seventh to give New York runners at first and second.

    Not wanting to give the Yankees a chance to cut into a six-run deficit, Piniella immediately turned to a bullpen that performed well for the Devil Rays during a homestand that saw them go 5-1 against Cleveland and Minnesota and 2-4 against Boston and New York.

    Jorge Sosa struck out Derek Jeter and got Bernie Williams to fly out. But Tampa Bay lost the shutout bid in the eighth when Alex Rodriguez singled, stole second and scored on Matsui's third hit.

    Tony Clark's RBI single off Sosa cut the lead to 6-2, and the Yankees added two more runs in the eighth on Jeter's infield single and Geoff Blum's throwing error, pulling to 6-4. After Fordyce's homer made it 7-4, closer Danys Baez returned to the mound for the ninth to earn his eighth save in eight opportunities.

    Gary Sheffield singled and Ruben Sierra doubled off Baez before Clark hit a two-run single. Jorge Posada then struck out, ending the game.

    "We fought back. We made them earn it," Sheffield said.

    The Yankees finished a 12-game road trip -- their longest in nearly two years -- with an 8-4 record. They headed home second in the AL East, a half-game behind Boston.

    "We've been winning so often, I just sort of expect to win," New York manager Joe Torre said.

    "It's nice to have everybody in the game and nobody throwing in the towel at any point in time. We had a couple opportunities."

    Huff, emerging from a season-long slump, hit solo homers off Jon Lieber (4-2) in the fourth and fifth innings. He added a RBI single off Gabe White in the sixth for a 6-0 lead and finished 3-for-4.

    The young Tampa Bay slugger has gone 29-for-80 in his last 20 games to raise his average to a season-high .264 with seven homers and 26 RBI. He hit .311 with 34 homers and 107 RBI last year.

    "Huff always hits. It's just a matter of when it starts," Piniella said. "We talked the other day about how when he begins to get his average up and get some hits, he starts to hit home runs."

    Huff concurred.

    "With singles and hits comes confidence," he said. "When you're struggling, it seems like every pitch is going to get you out."

    Zambrano allowed three hits, walked three and struck out seven in 6 1-3 innings. Lieber, meanwhile, gave up six runs and 11 hits in five-plus innings -- his shortest outing this season.

    "It's very frustrating," Lieber said. "I expect to keep the game a little closer."

    Rodriguez was hit by a pitch in the sixth, extending his streak of reaching base safely to a career-best 38 consecutive games.

    In addition to leading the majors with 46 walks, Zambrano has hit an AL-leading 10 batters.

    Game notes

    Jeter has at least one RBI in seven consecutive games. ... Lieber has only walked three batters in 40 2-3 innings this season. The 11 hits he yielded were a season-high. The six runs equaled the season-high he allowed in his other loss, May 7 at Seattle. ... Tampa Bay SS Julio Lugo was ejected for arguing balls and strikes in the second inning. ... Zambrano has made more appearances (19, including 10 starts) and pitched more innings against the Yankees than any other team. He's 5-3 against them.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press