NEW YORK - Nick Swisher gladly filled in for a silent Derek Jeter.
Swisher launched his second home run of the game Tuesday night, hitting a one-out shot in the ninth inning that barely cleared the wall and gave the New York Yankees a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay. The Rays lost their season-high seventh in a row.
“When you’re going into the late innings like that, it’s hard not to think about hitting a home run to win the game,” the ever-chatty Swisher said.
Jeter, meanwhile, struck out three times and remained stuck in his longest slump of the year, moving no closer to the Yankees hit record held by Lou Gehrig.
Rays rookie David Price fanned Jeter his first three times up, twice looking. The Yankees star had nothing to show for four at-bats, leaving him in an 0 for 12 rut and still four hits from surpassing Gehrig’s total of 2,721.
Jeter wasn’t available for postgame interviews. He usually stays around for comment, but this time left after his first three-strikeout game since July 2008.
“I’ve never seen him press before, so I don’t know what it looks like,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “He’s taking a lot of ribbing from his teammates. I’m sure it’s on his mind. I think he wants to put this behind him.”
Mariano Rivera (2-2) pitched a perfect ninth as the Yankees won for the 12th time in 15 games and got their major league-leading 90th win of the season, surpassing last year’s total.
The Yankees have won 13 times in game-ending fashion, the most for them since 1978.
“Walkoffs here are like base hits and bunts,” starting pitcher Chad Gaudin said.
The switch-hitting Swisher connected from both sides of the plate. He won it with a left-handed shot off Dan Wheeler (4-4) that barely made it over the right-field wall.
“The inches have been going against us,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “This is pretty much the script of the last three weeks.”
Swisher homered in the second and Alex Rodriguez had an RBI single in the sixth. Swisher has three multihomer games this season — he connected lefty and righty each time. Of Swisher’s 26 homers this season, only five have come at hitter-friendly Yankee Stadium.
“Just being the new guy over here ... it’s nice to make memories of our own,” he said.
Jason Bartlett greeted Yankees reliever Phil Hughes with a leadoff home run in the eighth, tying it at 2. Evan Longoria hit his 30th homer the previous inning off Gaudin.
Plagued by deep pitch counts earlier in the year, Price came out throwing strikes. He gave up only three hits in six innings, walked two and struck out six.
Randy Choate retired Jeter on a lineout leading off the eighth, then made the defensive play of the game. The sidearming lefty tracked down Johnny Damon’s drag bunt, lunged for the ball and flipped it with his glove while falling forward for the out.
Gaudin took a 2-0 lead into the seventh. His winless streak reached 10 starts, before he was traded from San Diego to the Yankees in early August.
Gaudin helped himself by picking off speedster Carl Crawford at first base with a quick move in the sixth. Crawford also got trapped after a triple in the opening inning, taking off on Longoria’s grounder and getting tagged out in a rundown.
Jeter’s parents watched from an upstairs box, and they saw their son go hitless in three straight games for the first time this season.
A day after moving past Yogi Berra into third place for most games played as a Yankee, Jeter joked with the Hall of Famer catcher in the clubhouse.
The nation grieved for those hurt, killed and affected by the Boston Marathon bombings. After one of the suspects was caught on Friday — following a day-long lockdown and manhunt — sports returned to Boston over the weekend.
“I got more rings than him, that’s what counts,” Berra kidded. “He’s still a baby.”
NOTES: Tampa Bay slugger Carlos Pena, who broke two fingers Monday when hit by a pitch from CC Sabathia, met with a hand specialist. He hasn’t made a decision on whether to have surgery. ... Jeter has struck out four times in a game twice. Curt Schilling fanned him four times in 1997 with Philadelphia.
HBT: Robinson Cano homered twice while David Phelps had the longest outing of his career as the Yankees topped the Blue Jays 7-2 this afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
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