September 13, 2017 / 9:33 PM / 12 days ago

Yankees score early, hold off Rays

NEW YORK -- Jaime Garcia allowed one run but came an out shy of qualifying for a win as the New York Yankees scored three times in the top of the second inning and held on for a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday in a game relocated to Citi Field because of Hurricane Irma’s impact on Florida.

The Yankees (79-66) improved to 9-4 in 13 games since getting swept by the Cleveland Indians at home Aug. 28-30. Although the Rays showed highlight montages and players heard their usual walk-up music, the pro-Yankee crowd of 13,159 sat in the lower level for $25 to watch the game and nervously sweat out the final outs.

Garcia joined CC Sabathia as the second Yankee starting pitcher to get pulled just shy of qualifying for a win in this series. In each instance, it was so they would not face Tampa Bay slugger Evan Longoria for a third time.

Garcia nearly completed five innings, which would have given him his first win in six starts for the Yankees. He was pulled after allowing a broken-bat single to Lucas Duda ahead of Longoria’s third at-bat.

After being lifted, Garcia was seen by television cameras discussing the move with manager Joe Girardi in the dugout. Garcia nodded along while listening to Girardi.

Longoria, who was 2-for-11 in the series, flied out to center field for the final out of the fifth against Chad Green. Green (5-0) struck out the side in the sixth before Tommy Kahnle and Dellin Betances combined to allow three hits in the seventh and eighth.

Aroldis Chapman struggled at the outset, allowing an RBI single to Adeiny Hechavarria, but struck out pinch hitter Wilson Ramos with two on in the eighth and pitched a scoreless ninth for his 18th save.

Todd Frazier and Brett Gardner keyed a three-run second off Chris Archer with base hits. Frazier drove in New York’s first run with a base hit past the diving attempt of Hechavarria at shortstop and Gardner hit a bases-loaded, two-run single to left field.

Kevin Kiermaier hit his career-high 13th homer in the third for Tampa Bay, which lost for the seventh time in 11 games.

Archer (9-10) threw 28 of his 92 pitches in the second inning and allowed three runs and six hits in four-plus frames. He was lifted after allowing a leadoff double to Gary Sanchez in the fifth, marking the first time in 17 career starts against New York that the right-hander did not last at least six innings.

NOTES: 1B Greg Bird (back spasms) was not in the lineup for a third straight game but an MRI on Tuesday came back clean. Manager Joe Girardi said he hopes to place Bird back in the lineup Friday, when the Yankees next face a right-handed starter. ... Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said RHPs Matt Andriese and Alex Cobb will start the first two games of this weekend’s home series with the Boston Red Sox. Cash also said that RHP Jake Faria (left abdominal strain) would likely make a multi-inning appearance at some point this weekend after being activated from the disabled list. ... Yankees OF Aaron Hicks (strained left oblique) did some light running in the outfield about three hours before the first pitch.

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