Joba Chamberlain pitched arguably his best game in pinstripes, and the Yankees' offense launched three home runs as the Bombers topped the Rays 6-2 in Tampa to take two of three from their division rivals.
Chamberlain, taking almost no time in between pitches, tossed eight scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out five against the Rays. After struggling to start the season, Chamberlain has looked like a different pitcher in his past three starts, going 3-0 while surrendering just eight hits in 21 2/3 innings. He now stands at 7-2 with a 3.58 ERA.
Matt Garza wasn't bad for the Rays, allowing three runs on eight hits over seven innings, but the Yanks touched up Tampa's bullpen for three runs in two innings to put the game out of reach. Robinson Cano, Melky Cabrera and Mark Teixeira all went deep for the Bombers — with Cabrera and Teixeira's shots coming in the ninth inning — as New York improved to 62-39 on the year.
The Yankees held a seemingly insurmountable 6-0 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, but reliever Brian Bruney and the Rays' lineup made it interesting. Carl Crawford led off the frame with a triple, while Evan Longoria followed with a long ball to make it 6-2. After getting Ben Zobrist to pop up, Bruney then surrendered a double to Carlos Pena and was promptly removed from the game by manager Joe Girardi.
Despite it being a non-save situation, Girardi wasn't taking any risks, calling upon closer Mariano Rivera to record the final two outs. Mo did so without much incident, allowing a walk to Gabe Gross but striking out Pat Burrell and Michael Hernandez to shut the door on the Rays and give the Yankees their fourth consecutive series victory.
The Yankees now have gone a sizzling 11-2 since the All-Star break on the strength of a team 3.03 ERA in that time. They hold a 7 1/2 game advantage over the Rays and a 3 1/2 game lead over the Red Sox in the AL East.