By Dave Buscema, The Sports Xchange
NEW YORK -- If Mariano Rivera was shouting at his television Tuesday night, there's no telling what the New York Yankees injured closer was doing Wednesday.
Before Wednesday night's game, Rivera recounted how he had been screaming encouragement as his main successor for the rest of this season, David Robertson, wiggled out of trouble Tuesday night during the Yankees' win.
But Robertson wasn't able to work himself out of a similar jam Wednesday, blowing a one-run lead in the ninth inning of New York's 4-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Rays, who had been held scoreless through eight innings by starter David Phelps and three relievers, greeted Robertson with back-to-back singles by Sean Rodriguez and Chris Gimenez. Ben Zobrist walked, before Robertson struck out Carlos Pena.
B.J. Upton tied the game on a sacrifice fly to right, then Matt Joyce broke it open with a three-run homer.
It marked the first runs scored against Robertson in his 14th inning of the season and his first blown save in his second opportunity since Rivera was likely lost for the year with a torn ACL in his right knee.
It was a humbling reminder for Robertson and the Yankees that the reliever who was an All-Star as a setup man last season will have a challenging transition as the main closer.
"Regardless of how good somebody has shown in the seventh or eighth inning to that point, it's an entirely different animal," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the art of closing prior to the game. "Again, I know people who argue differently, when they put numbers down but I'm telling you, it's a different situation for everybody.
"There's no blanket. There's no protective device on the other side, so it's got to be a different mindset when you're having unprotected ninth-inning duties."
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Rays while the Yankees ended their two-game streak.
Fernando Rodney, who pitched two scoreless innings of relief, picked up the victory for Tampa Bay. Rays starter Jeff Niemann had thrown seven innings of one-run ball, but stood to take the loss entering the ninth.
The Yankees thwarted the Rays' previous threats.
With New York leading 1-0 in the eighth, Upton singled to lead off the inning against Rafael Soriano. Joyce then rapped a grounder far to second baseman Robinson Cano's left and Cano rushed his throw to second, pulling shortstop Derek Jeter off the bag to put runners at first and second.
After Luke Scott struck out, Will Rhymes drilled a hard grounder down the line at first, but Mark Teixeira scooped it on a tough hop before throwing across his body to cut down the runner at second for the second out. Soriano then got pinch-hitter Desmond Jennings on a fly to left to end the inning.
Niemann pitched well in the first five innings, holding the Yankees to one run on four hits. New York took a 1-0 lead in the first when Cano doubled in Derek Jeter, who had singled.
Phelps looked good in his second start, but lost his chance for his first major-league win when manager Joe Girardi took him out with two outs in the fifth.
After holding the Rays scoreless on two hits in the first four innings, Phelps allowed Tampa Bay to load the bases with two outs in the fifth.
In came lefty Boone Logan, who struck out cleanup hitter Joyce to end the inning.
Phelps pitched in and out of trouble in the first, when Zobrist led off with a double. Another pair of walks, in between a pair of outs, including a fielder's choice, loaded the bases for Will Rhymes, but he grounded out to end the threat.
NOTES: Rivera said he had a blood clot in his right calf, but was on blood thinners and the clot would not affect his pending surgery for his torn ACL in his right knee. Rivera said the surgery would take place within a couple of weeks, after his knee was strengthened enough, and he expected to return next season. … 1B Mark Teixeira went to a doctor due to a cough that has plagued him since mid-April and has made it difficult for him to breathe. Teixeira said he would not miss any time, and the doctor told him he was healthy, but prescribed a non-anabolic steroid that did not require notifying Major League Baseball. … INF Eric Chavez said he did not pass a portion of his ImPACT concussion exam and was waiting to be cleared to play by MLB. Chavez, who resumed baseball activities Wednesday, hoped to be cleared by Thursday. … LF Brett Gardner (strained right elbow) tripled and walked twice with a run scored in his first three plate appearances in a minor-league rehab outing for Class AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Pa.). Girardi said he would be evaluated after the game. … Rays 2B Jeff Keppinger was placed on the restricted list for personal reasons, but is not expected to be gone for long, Maddon said. … Rays OF Desmond Jennings (sprained left knee) was close to returning after missing Tuesday and Wednesday's games, Maddon said, though he didn't specify a return date.
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