ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) – Alex Gonzalez homered and drove in four runs and Jonny Gomes snapped an eighth-inning tie when he scored on Tanyon Sturtze’s wild pitch, giving the Tampa Bay Devil Rays a 7-6 victory over the New York Yankees on Wednesday night.

Gonzalez had a RBI single off Al Leiter in the second and tied the game with a run-scoring double off Tanyon Sturtze (4-2) in the eighth.

Gomes, who had singled, raced home to put the Devil Rays ahead for good when Sturtze threw a pitch over the head of catcher Jorge Posada.

With Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who lives in Tampa, cheering from his private box at Tropicana Field, Gary Sheffield hit a three-run homer off Mark Hendrickson to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead in the fifth inning.

An inning later, Steinbrenner was chatting with fans, signing autographs and posing for pictures when the momentum shifted on Gonzalez’s two-run homer off New York reliever Aaron Small.

The Boss was long gone by the eighth, when the Devil Rays wiped out a 6-5 lead the Yankees took on Posada’s RBI single in the seventh. The victory improved Tampa Bay’s record against New York to 9-4 this season.

Second baseman Robinson Cano opened the door for the winning rally with a two-base throwing error on Aubrey Huff’s routine ground ball leading off the bottom of the eighth.

Trever Miller (1-0) pitched one inning for the victory. Danys Baez worked the ninth to earn his 26th save.

Leiter allowed one hit through five innings, but never seemed in control because he walked five and hit a batter in addition to giving up a RBI single to Gonzalez and sacrifice fly to Damon Hollins in the second.

The Yankees went to their bullpen after the left-hander, who has walked 27 in 35 1-3 innings since joining New York on July 16, gave up a single to Huff with one out in the sixth. Small struck out Jonny Gomes before giving up a two-run homer to Gonzalez that trimmed New York’s lead to 5-4.

Hendrickson settled after giving up singles to Sheffield, Matsui and Derek Jeter in the first inning. He didn’t allow hit until Jeter beat out a high chopper to first base when Hendrickson was slow to cover the bag with two outs in the fifth.

The Devil Rays paid for the mistake.

Hendrickson, who had retired 12 of 13 batters before Jeter’s hit, walked Robinson Cano before Sheffield lined a 3-1 pitch down the left field line to put the Yankees ahead for good, much to the delight of an applauding Steinbrenner.

Tino Martinez chased the Devil Rays starter with a two-out, run-scoring single that made it 5-2 in the sixth. Reliever Jesus Colome prevented further damage, getting Jeter to ground out with two runners on.

Hendrickson allowed five runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out five and walked three.

Leiter gave up three runs and two hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Notes: Gomes was hit by a pitch four times in the series, including three times on Monday night. He scored Tampa Bay’s second run after being plunked by Leiter in the second inning. … Yankees DH Jason Giambi went 0-for-2 with two walks and is hitless in his last 15 at-bats. … Devil Rays SS Julio Lugo did not start for the second straight night because of a sore left hand he injured sliding into second base on Monday night. He pinch-hit in the seventh and grounded out. … Miami Heat guard Jason Williams threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

AP-ES-08-17-05 2221EDT


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