Rookie slugger Gary Sanchez hit his 17th homer in 42 games this season, a three-run shot in a four-run seventh inning that sent the New York Yankees past the Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Tuesday night.
The banged-up Yankees began play 4 1/2 games behind Baltimore and Toronto for the two AL wild cards. New York would also have to jump over Seattle, Houston and Detroit to earn a postseason berth.
Sanchez gave the Yankees a 5-2 lead with his drive off Brad Boxberger (4-3). It was the young catcher's sixth home run in 11 games following a 10-game drought.
Mark Teixeira hit a solo shot in the fourth for New York, which was swept in a four-game series at Boston last weekend and had lost seven of eight overall.
It was Teixeira's 407th homer, which tied Duke Snider for 54th place on baseball's career list. The switch-hitting first baseman has hit 204 for the Yankees, moving him past Roger Maris and into a tie with Robinson Cano for 14th in franchise history.
Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (bruised right knee), third baseman Chase Headley (back spasms) and second baseman Starlin Castro (strained right hamstring) were all out of the lineup for the second straight game.
Luis Severino (3-8) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to earn the win. Dellin Betances got three outs for his 12th save.
New York starter Michael Pineda gave up two runs and struck out 11 in 5 1/3 innings.
Brad Miller put the Rays up 2-0 with a two-run triple in the third.
Tampa Bay lefty Drew Smyly allowed one run over six innings.
Yankees: Ellsbury didn't rule out starting Wednesday. . Headley could be back late this week. . OF Aaron Hicks (right hamstring) was reinstated from the 15-day disabled list.
Rays: OF Steven Souza Jr. (left hip) and 1B Logan Morrison (left wrist) will both have surgery Wednesday. . Utility man Nick Franklin (left hamstring) might not play again this season.
Yankees minor league right-hander James Kaprielian, out since late April with an elbow injury, threw 30 pitches during his second batting practice session. The 2015 first-round draft pick might pitch in the Arizona Fall League. "This year I learned a lot, and for me this is a big character test," Kaprielian said. "Battle these frustrations. I think in the long run this is going to help me."
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (13-4), who is 6-0 in his last eight starts, takes the ball Wednesday night. He is 5-0 in seven career starts against the Rays.
Rays: RHP Alex Cobb (1-0) makes his fourth start since returning from Tommy John surgery.