Mark Teixeira had to wait for the one mistake made by Rays starter David Price. The Rays left-hander was as good as most of the Yankees had seen him, and manager Joe Girardi didn't hesitate to say he had no-hit stuff.
The heart of New York's order had to wait on Tampa Bay reliever Kyle Farnsworth, who walked four batters in one-third of an inning and eventually coughed up the lead.
And perhaps, Girardi joked, the Yankees had to wait to take a late-game lead, as jumping out to early leads hadn't worked while the Yankees dropped nine straight under the Rays' dome. So the Yankees waited, and they got a much-needed 4-3 win over the Rays before an Independence Day crowd of 28,033. With the win, New York avoided a series sweep and will head into this weekend's four-game series against the Red Sox in Boston on a high note.
"Just a tremendous win for us," Girardi said. "This has been a tough place the first half of the season for us. To come back, maybe that's the key. We shouldn't get ahead early."
It looked like the Rays were well on their way to making it 10 straight losses for the Yankees at The Trop when Carlos Pena launched a two-run homer off Boone Logan into the right-field stands, putting Tampa Bay ahead, 3-1, in the seventh -- especially after New York missed a prime scoring opportunity in the top half of the inning.
But David Robertson pitched a clean eighth inning -- a welcome experience for him after admittedly blowing Monday's game, a 4-3 loss -- and Tampa Bay relieved Price with Farnsworth, a righty.
Farnsworth walked leadoff batter Eric Chavez and struck out Derek Jeter, then issued free passes to Curtis Granderson and Teixeira to load the bases. Alex Rodriguez then walked on six pitches, bringing in Chavez and trimming the Rays' lead to one run.
"I wasn't getting ahead of them, first off, on strike one, which obviously was huge," Farnsworth said. "They're going to sit on their one pitch, and they're not going to swing. ... It's all on me for not throwing strikes."
Girardi added that it's not always easy for hitters to leave the bat on their shoulder when a pitcher is throwing so many balls, especially when they could just as easily hit their way back into the game.
"We've got guys who can change the complexion of the game with one swing," Girardi said. "But they remained patient, and I give them a lot of credit."
Robinson Cano took care of things from there, knocking a two-run single to center field off left-hander Jake McGee -- who relieved Farnsworth -- to give the Yankees the lead. The hit also gave Cano eight straight games with at least one RBI.
"Every win's a big win, but it's good to get that monkey off your back," Cano said. "You want to be able to win one and get over it. You don't want to go to Boston losing three games."
Making his third Major League start, Yankees right-hander David Phelps found himself locked in a pitchers' duel with Price early on. Price was perfect through three and carried a no-hitter through four, while Phelps struck out eight batters in 4 1/3 innings despite struggling with his command, walking three batters and hitting two.
Several Yankees said it was the best stuff they'd seen from Price, the runner-up for the 2010 American League Cy Young Award. The left-hander was locating his high-90s fastball and leaning more on his offspeed pitches, painting corners and keeping New York off balance. Cano broke up the no-hitter and extended his season-long hitting streak to 11 games with a fifth-inning single, but Price quickly struck out Nick Swisher and induced an inning-ending double play from Andruw Jones.
"It was good [stuff] today, man," Swisher said. "I'm not much of a guy to give credit to pitchers, but sometimes you've got to give it. He did a great job for them tonight. Then again, let's give Phelpsy some props, man. He did a tremendous job."
Phelps, working under a pitch limit, threw 81 pitches and allowed his only run on the first hit he gave up -- an RBI single by Sean Rodriguez in the fourth -- then handed the game over to New York's bullpen. The Yankees finally got to Price in the seventh, when Teixeira hammered a 2-1 fastball into the left-field stands to tie the game at 1.
"It was real big," said Teixeira, who is now tied with Mo Vaughn and Shawn Green for 100th on the all-time home run list with 328. "He didn't make any mistakes -- until that pitch, at least."
"That's a tough lineup," Price said. "We hung in there and battled, and they threw the ball well. It was a typical AL East game, and they beat us."