Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/5/12

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Yankees are back in first place in the American League East.

Russell Martin homered and knocked in three runs and New York exploited a rare defensive breakdown by Tampa Bay to win 6-4 on Wednesday at Tropicana Field and steady itself after blowing a 10-game division lead since July.

With the win, New York opened a one-game lead on Baltimore, which lost at Toronto, and a 2.5-game bulge on the Rays.

Tampa Bay had won four consecutively while New York, which held a players’ meeting before the game, had dropped 10 of its last 14.

New York took a 6-4 lead in the seventh when Rays starter Matt Moore faltered against the bottom of the Yankee order and Elliot Johnson’s two-run throwing error proved costly. The Yankees got consecutive singles by Andruw Jones – who entered the game batting .201 – and Steve Pearce (.143) before a sacrifice bunt sent them both to scoring position. Reliever Kyle Farnsworth induced a grounder to second by Derek Jeter (3-for-5), but Johnson fired home extremely wide, allowing both runs to score.

The miscue capped a forgettable game for Johnson, who earlier dropped a Jeter pop that led to a run, and botched a squeeze bunt attempt in the second.

Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda (13-10) was good enough, allowing four earned runs on eight hits. Moore (10-9) allowed four earned runs on eight hits with nine strikeouts. Rafael Soriano earned his 36th save.

Martin’s 15th home run of the season with two out in the sixth gave the Yankees back a 4-3 lead an inning after allowing the Rays to tie.

Martin’s two-RBI ground-rule double in the third helped give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Jeter began the rally when the Rays' Johnson dropped his flare to center – it was ruled a single – and Matt Moore walked Robinson Cano with one out. Alex Rodriguez laced a run-scoring double to the left-field corner and scored with Cano when Martin’s squib to right hopped the fence.

The Rays tied the game on a two-run Ben Zobrist triple in the bottom of the fifth, however, in a rally that began with a two-out, bases-empty walk to Sam Fuld. Desmond Jennings followed Fuld’s walk with a sinking-liner single just in front of the Yankees' Jones, and was running on the 2-2 pitch when Zobrist pulled a ball off Kuroda to the right-center gap. Zobrist had fallen behind, 0-2, to start the at-bat.

The Rays took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on a two-out Evan Longoria single. Fuld had led off the game with a single and moved to second on a Jennings sacrifice bunt.

NOTES: Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, defending himself over being later than customary before a game at Oakland, accused Rays manager Joe Maddon of arriving “every day at 4 o’clock” during a heated radio interview on Wednesday. Maddon, who this May had called Valentine a “coward” for allegedly ordering a pitcher to throw at Luke Scott, indulged in a retort as he arrived for his pre-game scrum on Wednesday, saying, “Sorry I’m late. I just got here.” ... Rays top home run hitter B.J. Upton (18) was rested. ... Yankee Stadium will host Madonna concerts on Thursday and Saturday while the Yankees play at Baltimore. The now-crucial series is part of a 22-game Yankees stretch against the AL East.

MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Five most anticipated September MLB call-ups
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Lochte to be summoned to appear in Rio, charged with making false report

Carlos Ruiz traded to Dodgers

Ezekiel Elliott reportedly arrived at training camp overweight

Olympian auctions off medal to help young cancer patient

Report: Dodgers have turned down lowball offers for Puig

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jason Pierre-Paul’s lawsuit against Adam Schefter, ESPN will proceed

The Rock, Vin Diesel to settle 'rivalry' at WrestleMania 33?

Report: Browns trade former No. 6 overall pick Mingo to Pats

Harden organizing players-only minicamp with Rockets

Raiders file trademark applications for ‘Las Vegas Raiders’

U.S. Soccer hands Solo six month suspension for Olympic comments

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

A look at 2016 college football conference changes

The 20 best boxing movies ever

Will Perriman help Ravens find elusive WR success?

Jay Bouwmeester’s selection to Team Canada’s World Cup roster is a head-scratcher

Five MLB players with a lot to lose down the stretch

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Bruce Arians on sideline video use: 'It helps bad coaches'

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron's 'Cleveland Hustles'

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

The 20 best boxing movies of all time

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for fast food

What you need to know about the Champions League draw

Can the San Francisco Giants bust their teamwide slump?

A look at 2016 college football conference changes

Can Perriman's return help Ravens find oft-elusive WR success?

One Gotta Go: NFL legends bring the hate for our favorite football movies

Hard not to be cynical about LeBron James' 'Cleveland Hustles'

Ranking the uniforms of the NFL from worst to best

Familiar faces that won't be seen in the NFL this year

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker