Derek Jeter homered on the first pitch he saw to give the Yankees a jolt in his return from the disabled list and Alfonso Soriano made the captain a winner with a game-ending single that lifted New York over the Tampa Bay Rays 6-5 Sunday to avoid a three-game sweep.
Playing with Jeter for the first time since being re-acquired by New York from the Cubs on Friday, Soriano homered among his first four hits with the Yankees and drove in three runs.
Jeter was activated from the DL for the second time this month and connected against Matt Moore, sending a drive to right-center that ended the Yankees' nine-game homerless drought. He went 2 for 4 and scored twice.
Brett Gardner drew a leadoff walk from Jake McGee (2-3) in the ninth. McGee then switched belts on his uniform before facing Jeter, threw a wild pitch and received a visit from manager Joe Maddon.
The decision: walk Jeter intentionally.
After Robinson Cano struck out, Soriano hit a liner to center field for the win. He was mobbed by his teammates and doused with a liquid during a postgame interview.
Mariano Rivera (2-2), the Yankees' fourth reliever, got three groundball outs in the ninth.
Rookie Wil Myers homered twice and drove in four runs against beleaguered Yankees starter Phil Hughes and Kelly Johnson had an RBI double, but the AL East leaders lost for only the fourth time in 25 games.
Ichiro Suzuki had four hits and drove in a run on fellow Japanese star Hideki Matsui's bobblehead day. Matsui signed his retirement papers in an on-field ceremony in front of the third sellout at Yankee Stadium this season before the game.
Jeter's homer was the Yankees' first long ball by a right-hander since June 25, and his presence appeared to give the team an immediate lift.
After he homered and gave a quick wave of his cap from the dugout steps, Cano singled and Soriano followed with his first hit with New York in nine at-bats. Vernon Wells had a sacrifice fly and Suzuki had RBI single to make it 3-0.
Jeter started at shortstop for the first time this year. He was the designated hitter on July 11 when he returned from rehabbing the ankle he first broke during the opener of the AL championship series in October. He was sent right back to the disabled list when he strained his right quadriceps running out a grounder. The Yankees won just four of 12 during his most recent absence.
Johnson, who drove in the run in Tampa Bay's 1-0 win Saturday, pulled Tampa within two on a double in the second and Tampa took the lead in the third.
Evan Longoria and James Loney singled with one out, then Myers laced a shot to deep left for a 4-3 edge.
But in the bottom half, Jeter opened the inning by lining a single that glanced off Johnson's glove behind second base. Manager Joe Girardi was concerned Jeter would overdo it on the bases, but the 13-time All-Star only needed another easy jog to score his second run.
Soriano sent him into a trot, eking a homer over the right-field wall just out of the reach of a leaping Myers.
Myers put another ball of his own out of everyone's reach in the fifth, an opposite-field shot to right for the first multihomer game of his career.
Yankees third baseman Brent Lillibridge stole a third hit from Myers in the seventh, diving to his left to snare his sharp grounder.
Plagued by home runs throughout his career, Hughes has allowed 20 this season. Often mentioned in trade rumors, Hughes yielded five runs and nine hits in four-plus innings and left to a vociferous Bronx cheer.
He was lifted after walking Matt Joyce in the fifth, and the New York bullpen shut down the Rays the rest of the way. Preston Claiborne, Boone Logan, David Robertson and Rivera combined on five innings of one-hit ball.
Moore's six-start winning streak ended when he was lifted after five innings with the score tied at 5. Moore allowed five runs and eight hits.
Derek Jeter returned to the New York Yankees' lineup — again — with customary flair, making an immediate impact on a team desperate for power.
Jeter homered on the first pitch he saw from Tampa Bay's Matt Moore, connecting Sunday soon after being activated from the disabled list for the second time this month.
"Hopefully I can help in any way, but we need contributions from a lot of people," said Jeter, who made his season debut at shortstop. "It's not like I'm some savior coming in here all of a sudden we're just going to start winning."
The captain's drive ended the Yankees' nine-game homerless drought. It was New York's first long ball by a right-hander since June 25.
Jeter received a loud ovation and came out for a very quick curtain call, waving his cap from the next-to-top step of the Yankees dugout.
To make room for Jeter, the Yankees placed designated hitter Travis Hafner on the disabled list with a right rotator cuff strain. Hafner has slumped to a .205 average. He hit the last of his 12 homers on June 25, a span of 67 at-bats.
Jeter, a 13-time All-Star, had his much-anticipated return July 11 — as the designated hitter — after missing the Yankees' first 91 games because of a twice broken ankle. He was first injured during the opener of the AL championship series in October.
But he sustained a Grade 1 strained of his right quadriceps running out a groundball against Kansas City and went right back on the DL.
Fourth in the AL East, the Yankees have gone 4-8 during his second absence and are 54-50. New York has scored fewer runs than all but three teams in the American League this season.
Manager Joe Girardi hopes he'll be penciling the Yankees' career hits leader in the batting order nearly every day from now on.
"It changes our lineup. There's no doubt about that," he said. "And just his presence is important to this club. It's been important for such a long time."
A favorable schedule should help keep Jeter playing every day at the start. The Yankees have off-days Monday and Thursday next week, then only play six games before their next open day.
Girardi said he's been preaching a cautious approach for Jeter when he runs the bases, at least in the first few games of his comeback, to protect the leg. But the always-all-out Jeter had difficulty embracing the concept while dressing in the Yankees clubhouse before Sunday's game.
"I'll try it," Jeter said. "It's kind of hard because I've never really done it. It's not like I'm going to be jogging to first base. I can't do it. I don't think I can do that. We'll see, I'll try."
A career .313 hitter, Jeter was eligible to come off the disabled list Saturday but the Yankees instead had him participate in a simulated game that was shrouded in secrecy. The location of the workout was not disclosed until after the Yankees' 1-0 loss to the Rays.
"I don't know, it wasn't my idea. They needed to see some things," Jeter said. "Evidently they saw what they needed to see."
NOTES: RHP David Phelps (forearm strain) said he will make his second rehab start Tuesday, for Double-A Trenton. ... Injured INF 3B Jayson Nix (strained right hamstring) should be activated when the Yankees visit the Dodgers on Tuesday.