NEW YORK — Jason Bartlett hit his latest leadoff homer in New York to begin a beating of the banged-up Yankees, and the streaking Tampa Bay Rays held on for a 10-6 victory Wednesday night in the opener of a two-game series between baseball's top two teams.
Evan Longoria had three hits and two RBIs, sending the AL East leaders to their fifth straight win. Tampa Bay stole six bases against starting pitcher A.J. Burnett — four in a four-run fourth inning — and improved to 29-11, the best record for a big league team after 40 games since Boston had the same mark in 2002.
Trailing 10-2 going into the ninth, New York scored four times with two outs against Andy Sonnanstine. Joaquin Benoit struck out Juan Miranda with two on for his first save since May 3, 2008, with Texas at Oakland.
Handed a six-run cushion by the fourth, rookie Wade Davis (4-3) held the Yankees in check. Alex Rodriguez hit his 589th home run and Robinson Cano had four hits for New York (25-15), which has dropped seven of 11 since a six-game winning streak.
Already missing four injured regulars, the Yankees lost another position player when Marcus Thames stepped on his own rolling bat and sprained his left ankle.
Faster and fresher than the defending World Series champs, Tampa Bay scampered all over the bases and tagged the hard-throwing Burnett (4-2) for nine hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings.
Ben Zobrist even scored from second base when Brett Gardner made a spectacular diving catch at the center-field fence of Carlos Pena's eighth-inning sacrifice fly, extending the lead to 10-2.
John Jaso also had three hits for the Rays, who moved to an astounding 16-4 on the road while handing New York its fifth loss in 18 home games this year. Tampa Bay had dropped 11 of 15 against New York, and seven straight at Yankee Stadium since June 7 last year.
Thames, having quite an eventful week for a backup outfielder, was injured in a bizarre way on his sixth-inning single. As he ran to first base, he stepped on his own rolling bat nearly halfway up the line and yelped in pain. Thames crumbled to the turf after reaching the bag, then tried to walk it off before being lifted for pinch-runner Ramiro Pena.
Thames hit a game-winning homer Monday night off Boston closer Jonathan Papelbon, then dropped a ninth-inning fly for a key error in New York's 7-6 loss Tuesday.
Bartlett drove Burnett's second pitch to left for his third career leadoff homer — all in the last two seasons at the new Yankee Stadium. One of those leadoff shots was his previous big league home run, on Sept. 9 off Joba Chamberlain.
Two walks, a sacrifice bunt and a hit batter led to Longoria's sacrifice fly in the third. Tampa Bay then batted around and stole four bases in a four-run fourth.
B.J. Upton and Hank Blalock singled, then pulled off a double steal. Jaso hit a two-run double, Carl Crawford's RBI double with two outs thumped off the padded right-field fence and Longoria singled home another run to make it 6-0.
Francisco Cervelli's sacrifice fly put New York on the board in the bottom half, and Rodriguez connected leading off the sixth. His drive, on the 10th pitch of the at-bat, soared over Monument Park in center field and caromed off a blue wall back onto the field.
Yankees C Jorge Posada went for an MRI exam on his sore right foot. … Tampa Bay matched a season high with 15 hits. … Longoria has 23 RBIs in his past 20 games. … Longoria and Upton each had two steals. … Pena, normally an infielder, replaced Thames in right field.