It took until the 11th inning, when both starters were watching from from the sidelines, but Reid Brignac accounted for the only run of the instant classic. His solo home run off Sergio Mitre powered the Rays past the Yankees, 1-0, on Monday.
Tampa Bay moved into first place in the American League East for the first time since June 13, taking the lead ahead of the skidding Yankees, losers in seven of their last eight games.
"We haven't gotten the bounces, haven't gotten the breaks," said Sabathia, who was denied his second opportunity to lock up a 20-win season. "It was a tough series in Texas with the walk-offs, and tonight. We've just got to go out and keep do the things we've been doing. Hopefully we get some breaks."
The Yankees did evade damage to keep the line moving in the 10th inning, when the Rays had the winning run 90 feet away. Yankees manager Joe Girardi later revealed he was without Joba Chamberlain and Dave Robertson in his bullpen, so it was up to Chad Gaudin to work out of a bases-loaded jam, which he did.
That roll of the dice worked, but it wouldn't with Mitre, pitching for just the second time since Aug. 27. With the count full, Mitre tossed an 82-mph changeup that Brignac clubbed high into the right-field seats for his seventh homer, marking Tampa Bay's sixth walk-off win of the year.
"Every loss is tough. Obviously it's a lot more magnified because we're in a race and it's real close," Mitre said. "Every game seems like a big one."
"Unbelievable," Brignac said. "You feel like you're floating on clouds. I had a couple of walk-offs in the Minor Leagues, but nothing compared to this."
The Yankees did not feel as though they'd flushed a Cy Young-caliber effort from Sabathia, who struck out nine and allowed two hits in eight innings, but rather were frustrated with their inability to break through against Price.
"We didn't waste one. He did everything we can," Jorge Posada said. "You've got to give a lot of credit to Price. He did a lot of things well, too."
New York managed just two baserunners through the first six innings. Derek Jeter singled to open the first inning and was quickly erased on a double-play grounder, and Posada worked a fifth-inning walk but was gunned down on a steal attempt.
With two runners aboard in the seventh, Price found his groove and got both Alex Rodriguez and Marcus Thames to fly out. Price completed eight innings of three-hit ball, walking two and striking out four in a 114-pitch performance.
"That was a good game," Price said. "It was kind of what everybody was expecting, and that's what they got. So it was a good game."
No one would debate that Sabathia had his "on" stuff going. He set down the first eight he faced before Kelly Shoppach, a former batterymate with the Indians, logged the first Tampa Bay hit with a single to left field.
Sabathia continued mowing down the lineup after stranding two aboard in the third, facing the minimum until Ben Zobrist spat on a full-count pitch for a walk with two outs in the seventh inning.
But Mark Teixeira bailed an appreciative Sabathia out of the jam with a diving stop to his right that took a hit away from Carlos Pena, and Sabathia waited on the field to thank Teixeira after the inning was completed.
"We just were able to mix it up to both sides of the plate and keep the speedsters off the bases," Sabathia said. "If you keep them off the bases, you've got a pretty good chance of pitching good against these guys."
Sean Rodriguez got to Sabathia for the second and last hit he'd allow in the eighth inning, shooting a leadoff single up the middle, and Sabathia was teetering after a sacrifice bunt and a pitch that clipped Shoppach.
But Sabathia fanned B.J. Upton and got Jason Bartlett to bounce into a fielder's choice, ending his effort after 119 pitches. Unfortunately for Sabathia, because of Price's excellence, it was good only for a no-decision.
"That was a classic," Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland said. "That's going to be talked about for awhile. But we expected that. We expected a low-scoring game. To think it was going to be 0-0 after eight, I don't think anybody could have predicted that."
A questionable baserunning decision by speedster Brett Gardner short-circuited the Yankees' last rally. In the New York 10th, pinch-hitter Lance Berkman walked and was replaced by Gardner, who stole second despite a sore right wrist that kept him out of the lineup.
Gardner had thoughts of going to third base as well, taking away Joaquin Benoit's slider and perhaps giving Austin Kearns a better pitch to hit, but Benoit checked Gardner and nailed him sliding into third base, called out representing the potential go-ahead run.
"That's a situation where you can't get thrown out stealing third," Gardner said. "Looking back on it, I guess it was unnecessary. I'm sorry for that to all my teammates. I'm obviously upset about it, but tomorrow is a new day. I won't get thrown out stealing third with two outs ever again."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.