Johnny Damon, Casey Kotchman and Kelly Shoppach all connected in the third inning for three of Tampa Bay's five solo home runs against CC Sabathia, and David Price again came out on top in a matchup of these elite lefties, lifting the Rays over the New York Yankees 5-1 Friday night.
With a full moon looming over the famed Yankee Stadium frieze in right field, light-hitting Elliot Johnson and Evan Longoria also homered in Tampa Bay's fifth straight win.
The five homers were the most Sabathia (16-7) has allowed in his career. The Rays' previous high for home runs in a game this season was three.
Price (10-10) improved to 3-0 in the five times he's faced Sabathia, pitching eight dominant innings of six-hit ball.
More importantly for the Rays, who began a six-game trip against the Yankees and Red Sox hoping to close a big gap in the AL East, Price snapped a six-week skid in which he went 1-4 in eight starts.
The first inning should have felt familiar to Price, though. Derek Jeter led off with a single against the lanky lefty. Hit No. 3,034 of Jeter's career came with none of the fanfare that accompanied his three knocks the last time he faced Price at the ballpark in the Bronx. Jeter's second hit on July 9 was a home run for the milestone 3,000th.
Price benefited from some fine defense, too. Shoppach made a difficult tag at home on a strong relay by second baseman Sean Rodriguez to prevent a second run in the fourth. Rodriguez made a diving stop in the eighth to start an inning-ending double play, one of two DPs that Jeter hit into.
Kotchman was the first Rays player to hit the ball out of the infield against Sabathia. His fly in the third landed in the second deck in right field. Shoppach followed with a long homer to left, the third time the Rays went back-to-back this season.
Sabathia then struck out two looking before Damon accomplished what he had done plenty of times in four seasons with the Yankees: He sent a high fly that just cleared the short porch in right field.
The only other time Sabathia gave up three homers in an inning was May 1, 2007, against Toronto when he was with Cleveland. He hadn't given up more than one home run in a game this season.
Sabathia followed his worst start of the year — seven runs in six innings against Boston — by going eight innings and yielding five runs and a season high-tying 10 hits. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter.
The Yankees finally nicked Price in the fourth, when Robinson Cano singled for New York's first hit since Jeter led off with a single. Nick Swisher walked and Andruw Jones hit a line-drive double into the right-center gap, scoring Cano.
Swisher tried scoring from first but Rodriguez was on the money with the relay and Shoppach blocked Swisher from getting a hand in to touch the plate, keeping the score 3-1.
Rays manager Joe Maddon put righty-swinging Johnson in the lineup as a "best guess" for beating Sabathia. Johnson, who had struck out in 12 of his previous 22 at-bats — including his first Friday — proved his skipper right. He led off the fifth with a homer to left to restore the three-run lead.
Joel Peralta struck out the side in the ninth.