ST. PETERSBURG -- A chant began gaining steam in the fifth inning of Monday night's Yankees-Rays game: "Who's in first place?!"
Technically, Rays fans were correct -- even if Tampa Bay had lost on Monday night, it would have remained in the top spot in the American League East, but at that moment, the taunt seemed to ring a little bit hollow. After all, the Yankees had just disposed of David Price and held a four-run lead that looked commanding, given the fact the Rays had not scored more than five runs in a game at Tropicana Field all season.
Alas, the Rays' bats came alive to produce a five-run sixth inning. Suddenly, Rays fans looked prophetic, if not a little cheeky. And why not? Their team had taken the Yankees' best shot and come away 6-5 winners.
In doing so, the Rays (24-17) staged their largest come-from-behind victory this season, moving to 23-9 since April 11 to increase their lead in the AL East to three games over the second-place Yankees.
Sam Fuld began the sixth-inning comeback with a blow that certainly added to the ever-expanding "Legend of Sam Fuld." A day after busting his lip open in a collision at second base that required two stitches, Fuld connected for a two-run homer off Yankees starter A.J. Burnett.
"It was a good hitters' count, and I was definitely trying to pull the ball and not necessarily elevate it," said Fuld, who has been in a slump and is striving to keep the ball out of the air. "It was just a pretty good pitch to hit, and I just got the barrel on it."
Did Fuld know the blast would clear the wall in right?
"Man, I think with my size, I never know," Fuld said. "But that one felt pretty good. I figured at least being down the line, as long as it stayed fair, it had a good chance."
Hot-hitting outfielder Matt Joyce added an RBI single before B.J. Upton chased Burnett with a two-run homer, giving the Rays a 6-5 lead.
"I just floated a hook in there," Burnett said. "That's where Upton likes it -- he hits curveballs in the zone, and that one was right there for him."
Upton said he wasn't "exactly sitting on" a curveball.
"But he left it up and kind of over the plate, and I just put a good swing on it," Upton said. "I actually didn't think I got it, but it went, so I'm happy with it."
Upton laughed when asked what it felt like to upstage the great Fuld.
"Man, we're all teammates," Upton said. "We all want each other to do well, and I think the main thing is we want to win. It was a fun sixth inning."
And the sixth felt like an aberration, given the way the Rays' offense has struggled at home this season.
"It's kind of been rough to play here," Upton said. "I don't know why, but it worked out tonight. I don't think anybody's going to complain about it."
So, too, was the bullpen troika of Juan Cruz, Joel Peralta and Kyle Farnsworth, who covered the final four innings without allowing the Yankees to score after Price endured his second-shortest outing of the season.
The Yankees' first salvo against Price came in the second, when they cobbled together four hits -- including a two-run single by Eduardo Nunez -- while working the Rays' ace for 22 pitches.
But the big blow came in the fifth, when Curtis Granderson connected on a 2-2 pitch from Price with two aboard for his 14th home run of the season, putting the Yankees up, 5-1.
Prior to Granderson's blast, Price had not surrendered a home run to a left-handed hitter since June 23, 2009, a period covering 310 at-bats by lefty batters.
"[Granderson] is hot right now, so that's tough," Price said. "It's a tough lineup. They hit fastballs, and I didn't feel like I had my best stuff today, but my teammates picked me up and that what it's about."
Entering Monday's game, the Rays had started the season by going 22 games at home without scoring more than five runs in a game, leaving the club four games short of the modern record of 26 set by the Brooklyn Superbas in 1908.
"It is good [to score more than five runs], because being an historian, I was really concerned about our attempt to surpass the Superbas," manager Joe Maddon teased. "All during that game, I could visualize us scoring at least six or seven runs to stay out of the record books in that regard, because we're such trend-setters with records this year. We are trying to do it in another way, so getting the Superbas off our backs is kind of nice."
The Rays' manager clearly enjoyed Monday night's win, which made a little fun understandable, because as Rays fans clearly stated, "Who's in first place?!"
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.