Tommy Pham broke a third-inning tie with a home run, and the Tampa Bay Rays held on through a wild ninth inning Wednesday night, stalling the New York Yankees' pursuit of the American League's first wild card with an 8-7 win in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The Yankees (97-61) saw their lead over Oakland (96-63) reduced to 1 1/2 games in the duel to see who will host the AL wild-card game next week. The A's won 9-3 at Seattle later Wednesday night.
Both New York and Tampa Bay scored three runs in the first inning before Pham's homer off Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka (12-6) put Tampa Bay on top the rest of the way.
The homer was Pham's 21st of the season.
Tanaka was pulled after four innings, having allowed four runs (three earned) and six hits. He walked one and struck out four.
After the Rays added four runs against the New York bullpen in the eighth to go up 8-3, the Yankees roared back against Sergio Romo in the ninth, getting a walk plus consecutive hits from Brett Gardner, Andrew McCutchen, Aaron Judge, Luke Voit and Giancarlo Stanton to get within 8-7 with two on and just one out.
But Romo got Tyler Wade to fly out, advancing the potential tying run to third base, before Miguel Andujar fouled out to end the game.
Despite allowing four runs in 1 1/3 innings, Romo was credited with his 24th save. Yonny Chirinos (5-5), one of six relievers who pitched shutout ball between starter Ryne Stanek and Romo, got the win.
The Yankees got a 3-0 jump when Neil Walker belted a two-out, three-run homer in the top of the first off Stanek.
The homer, Walker's 11th of the season, followed a leadoff single by McCutchen and a two-out walk to Stanton.
Stanek pitched only the one inning, charged with three runs and two hits. He walked one and struck out two.
The Rays rebounded immediately to tie the game on an RBI single by Joey Wendle, an error on Tanaka that produced a run and an infield RBI hit by Willy Adames.
The Tampa Bay bullpen took over from there, with Chirinos, Adam Kolarek, Chaz Roe, Jose Alvarado, Hunter Wood and Vidal Nuno combining for three-hit, shutout ball over 6 2/3 innings before Romo was summoned to get the final out of the eighth, which he did successfully, with the Rays still up just 4-3.
The Rays then appeared to bust the game open with four runs in the last of the eighth. An RBI double by C.J. Cron and squeeze bunt by Nick Ciuffo highlighted the uprising.
Adames had two hits and two RBIs for the Rays, who evened the season series against the Yankees at 9-9.
Pham scored twice while Jake Bauers collected a pair of hits for Tampa Bay (88-70).
Voit amassed three hits and two RBIs for the Yankees, who finish a four-game series at Tampa Bay on Thursday before heading to Boston for three games starting on Friday.
McCutchen and Judge chipped in with two hits apiece for New York.
--Field Level Media