NEW YORK - No matter which hitters the Tampa Bay Rays send up against Mariano Rivera, they hardly seem intimidated.
Joe Dillon hit a tiebreaking single in the ninth inning and the surging Rays touched up Rivera for the second time this season, beating the New York Yankees 9-7 on Saturday despite committing four errors.
B.J. Upton added an RBI single off the star closer, part of a four-run rally that carried the AL champions to their fourth straight victory and sixth in seven games.
“I just loved the way we kept fighting back,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
David Price left with a chance to beat CC Sabathia in a much-anticipated matchup pitting a potential ace against an established one. But the Yankees scored twice in the eighth against Tampa Bay’s bullpen, tying it 5-all.
Willy Aybar and Ben Zobrist homered for the Rays, who doubled their previous season high for errors in a game. Three were wild throws by All-Star catcher Dioner Navarro.
Tampa Bay is 3-0 at the new Yankee Stadium, including an 8-6 victory May 7 when Rivera served up back-to-back homers for the first time in his career. Carl Crawford and Evan Longoria connected for ninth-inning solo shots in that one.
This time, injury fill-ins Dillon and Ben Zobrist sparked the burst against Rivera.
“I think anytime you do something against a closer and you do it in recent memory, it gives you a little bit of confidence,” said Zobrist, who opened the inning with a triple.
Mark Teixeira homered in the eighth and hit a two-run double in the ninth for New York. Alex Rodriguez also went deep for the Yankees, who had won 17 of 22.
Handed a 9-5 cushion, Rays reliever Dan Wheeler gave up three straight hits to start the ninth, then retired Rodriguez and Jorge Posada with Teixeira on second.
Ex-Yankee Randy Choate got Robinson Cano on a long fly to center for his third save in eight days — the first three of his major league career, which began in 2000. Upton made a lunging grab to end it.
“One of the guys said to me, ‘Only 491 more to go to catch Mo,”’ Choate said.
Zobrist tripled to left-center and scored on a single by Dillon, a journeyman who was acquired from Oakland on May 9. Dillon has three hits in each of the past two games, matching his career high each time.
Upton added a two-out RBI single off Rivera (0-2), who was then lifted from the game in a rare sight. Crawford hit a run-scoring single off Phil Coke and another run scored on Rodriguez’s error at third.
“After the team ties the game, it was tough to go out and do that,” Rivera said. “Especially when you know that you have the top of your lineup coming up. You just want to get three outs and then you look up and it’s four runs.”
Rivera hadn’t allowed four runs in a game since April 27, 2007, against Boston.
“I thought he threw some good pitches to Zobrist. It didn’t look to me like he had a problem. The drives into the gap just got too much of the plate,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s going to happen from time to time. He’s been in a good stretch for us. When you see it, you’re kind of shocked.”
Friday night’s rainout pushed back the matchup between Sabathia and Price, drafted No. 1 overall by Tampa Bay in 2007.
Making his fourth big league start, the 23-year-old lefty walked five in 5 2-3 innings but allowed only two hits and three runs — one earned.
“I didn’t have it today,” Price said. “I’m lucky to get out of here with our team winning.”
Sabathia went eight innings, giving up five runs (four earned) and five hits. He entered 7-1 with a 2.44 ERA in 11 career starts against Tampa Bay.
“Couple of bad pitches, some bad locations,” Sabathia said. “I’m sure we will face each other again during the course of the season and we certainly will have an opportunity to talk.”
Tampa Bay’s J.P. Howell (1-2) struck out pinch-hitter Hideki Matsui with runners at the corners to end the eighth.
Notes: Maddon said injured DH Pat Burrell (neck strain) likely will begin a minor league rehab assignment in the next few days and could be back in Tampa Bay’s lineup by Friday. ... Rodriguez’s 561st homer put him two behind Reggie Jackson for 11th on the career list.
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