ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Bobby Abreu and Hideki Matsui hit three-run homers in a wild six-run first inning and the New York Yankees went on to beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 16-1.

Abreu and Matsui homered off Jae Seo (1-7) during the 26-minute half inning that also saw Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon and pitching coach Mike Butcher ejected.

Jaret Wright (11-7), bidding to be the Yankees’ fourth starter in the postseason, gave up one run, five hits, four walks and struck out four in six innings. He is 7-1 all-time against Tampa Bay.

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, who pitched for the first time Friday since being sidelined since Aug. 31 with a strained right forearm, allowed an infield hit and had a strikeout in a scoreless seventh.

New York, which had a season-high 20 hits, had lost three of four since clinching its ninth straight AL East title on Wednesday. The Yankees (94-62) are tied with the Detroit Tigers for the best record in the AL.

Abreu went 4-for-4, including a run-scoring single in the second. He had a career-high seven RBIs when the Yankees beat Tampa Bay 12-4 on Sept. 12.

Matsui went 3-for-4 and had four RBIs. Miguel Cairo drove in three runs with a double with the bases loaded in the ninth.

Seo, 0-2 over his last nine starts, threw 46 pitches in the first. He allowed eight runs and seven hits in 1 2-3 innings.

Butcher was thrown out by plate umpire Alfonso Marquez for arguing balls and strikes from the dugout. After being ejected, Butcher ran toward home plate to continue arguing. He appeared to make contact with third base umpire Larry Young, who tried to get between the coach and Marquez.

Maddon left the dugout to argue and was thrown out by Marquez. Butcher, who had returned to the dugout, went back on the field and had to be restrained by bullpen coach Bobby Ramos.

Robinson Cano had an RBI-single in a two-run second to make it 8-0. Johnny Damon hit his 23rd homer in the third off Brian Meadows to give the Yankees’ a nine-run lead.

New York went up 12-0 in the sixth when Alex Rodriguez hit an RBI-double, Gary Sheffield had a run-scoring infield single and Matsui drove in a run with a single.

Ty Wigginton homered in the sixth for Tampa Bay, his team-leading 24th.

New York’s Andy Cannizaro hit his first major league homer in the eighth.

Notes: Rodriguez stopped an 0-for-13 slide with a fourth-inning single. … New York 1B Jason Giambi (left wrist) remains scheduled to hit off a tee Tuesday. He might play Wednesday. … Yankees RHP Mike Mussina, hit on the base of the left thumb by a line drive Sunday, reported no problems. … Matsui is scheduled to play in the field Tuesday. He has been the DH 12 times since returning from a left wrist injury.

AP-ES-09-25-06 2232EDT


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