Yanks' rally can't erase tough start

Yanks' rally can't erase tough start

Tampa, Fla.
Friday, March 5

Rays at the plate: Sean Rodriguez put Tampa Bay on the board in the first inning with a home run to straightaway center field, his third of the spring. Jason Bartlett doubled the lead in the third inning with a run-scoring triple to left-center field, bringing home Chris Richard, and Rodriguez followed with an RBI triple of his own to almost the same spot. Justin Ruggiano hit a fourth-inning double, and Rodriguez added his own double in the fourth, finishing a single shy of the cycle.

Yankees at the plate: Francisco Cervelli alertly turned a double into a triple in the third inning, racing to third when Rodriguez had trouble picking up the ball in left field. Two innings later, Cervelli put the Yankees on the board with a single that scored Robinson Cano. New York pulled to within one run by batting around in a six-run seventh inning that included an RBI double by Jorge Vazquez.

Rays on the mound: David Price started and worked around a leadoff single in the first inning, then allowed a hit and a walk in the second before leaving with two outs in the inning. The lefty threw a wild pitch among his 42 pitches -- 26 of which were strikes -- striking out two. Jeremy Hellickson relieved and was impressive, striking out boyhood idol Derek Jeter as well as Mark Teixeira in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Yankees on the mound: Rotation contenders Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain pitched back-to-back, and neither appeared especially sharp. Hughes started and allowed a home run and a walk in two innings, turning in a 33-pitch outing that consisted of 18 strikes. Chamberlain surrendered back-to-back RBI triples to Bartlett and Rodriguez in the third and was chased by a Ruggiano double in the fourth, allowing five runs on three hits with three walks and a strikeout. Chamberlain threw 33 pitches, 14 for strikes.

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Worth noting: Jeter made a nice play in the hole to rob Bartlett of a hit in the first inning. ... Nick Swisher was caught too far off first base by a Dioner Navarro snap throw, ending the second inning. ... Cano made a nifty pickup on an overthrown pickoff attempt in the third inning, throwing out Ben Zobrist at second base.

Grapefruit League records: Rays 2-1; Yankees 1-2

Up next: The Rays will host a split squad from the Red Sox on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. ET at Charlotte Sports Park. Right-hander Andy Sonnanstine will start for Tampa Bay and will be followed by Wade Davis; both are competing for spots in the Rays' starting rotation. Other available pitchers for Saturday include Randy Choate, Jake McGee, Dale Thayer, Joe Bateman and Luis De Los Santos.

The Yankees will stay at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday, hosting the Blue Jays in a 1:05 p.m. start that will be televised on MLB.TV. A.J. Burnett will make his first spring start for New York, taking on former teammate Shaun Marcum, who did not pitch in 2009.

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.