Rays rally past Yankees 3-2 behind Hellickson

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Jeremy Hellickson pitched seven strong innings and Tampa Bay took advantage of sloppy New York defense to score two runs that gave the Rays a 3-2 victory over the Yankees on Tuesday night.

Hellickson (9-7) retired 13 of 15 batters after giving up a two-run homer to Robinson Cano in the third inning, helping his team stay close until the sputtering Rays offense could finally break through against Bartolo Colon.

Robinson Chirinos and Sean Rodriguez singled, chasing Colon (6-6) with one out in the seventh. That’s when things really awry for New York.

Center fielder Curtis Granderson lost pinch-hitter Justin Ruggiano’s fly ball in the Tropicana Field roof for a single off Boone Logan that loaded the bases. It looked as though the Yankees might escape the jam when the next batter — pinch-hitter Elliot Johnson — hit a tailor-made, double-play grounder back to the mound, but the ball glanced off Logan’s glove for an error that enabled the Rays to tie it at 2.

Rodriguez raced home from third for the go-ahead run on Johnny Damon’s sacrifice fly to shallow center. Granderson charged in to make a sliding catch, scrambled to his feet but threw wildly to the plate.

Rebounding from allowing eight runs in two-thirds of an inning at Toronto in New York’s first game after the All-Star break, Colon took a three-hitter into the seventh. He walked two and struck out a season-high nine.

Hellickson won his second straight start following a four-game losing streak, yielding two runs and five hits while walking one and striking out seven. Jake McGee pitched a scoreless eighth and Joel Peralta worked a perfect ninth for his first save.

Cano’s 16th homer ended a stretch of four consecutive games in which the Yankees failed to hit a home run, the club’s longest streak this season.

Colon limited the Rays to one hit until Sam Fuld tripled to center with one out in the fifth and scored on Reid Brignac’s single to right. The 38-year-old right-hander gave up a single to B.J. Upton and walked two in the first three innings, but none of those runners advanced beyond first base.

Hellickson regrouped after Cano’s homer to retire 12 in a row before Brett Gardner singled and Eduardo Nunez walked with two outs in the seventh. After a double steal, the rookie right-hander finished his night by getting Derek Jeter to ground out.

NOTES: The Rays optioned LHP Alex Torres to Triple-A Durham and recalled RHP Dane De La Rosa. In his major league debut on Monday night, Torres walked Russell Martin with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, forcing home the decisive run in a 5-4 New York victory. … The Yankees placed RHP Sergio Mitre on the 15-day DL with right shoulder inflammation and recalled LHP Steve Garrison from Double-A Trenton. … New York RHP Rafael Soriano (right elbow inflammation) allowed two runs and two hits over 1 1-3 innings in his first game with Class-A Tampa. INF Eric Chavez (broken left foot) was the DH in the same game. … New York RHP Ivan Nova left a start at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre because of an undisclosed injury.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.