Rays score early and often to beat Yanks
Tampa Bay never looks back after six-run first inning
ST. PETERSBURG -- Talk about how a new night can bring new possibilities, what transpired underneath Tropicana Field's Teflon dome on Tuesday night definitely qualifies.
Mired in an eight-game losing streak, the Rays stepped up to the plate on Tuesday night, rapping out 16 hits in an 11-4 victory over the Yankees in front of an announced crowd of 14,824.
Doug Waechter started for the Rays and retired the Yankees in order before the lumber came out in the bottom half of the inning.
Alex Sanchez led off with a single to begin a 20-minute first-inning hit parade that saw the Rays send 11 batters to the plate against Yankees starter Kevin Brown. Every hitter in the lineup -- save for Aubrey Huff -- had a hit in the first: Julio Lugo, Huff, Josh Phelps, and Alex Gonzalez each drove in one run, and Nick Green drove in two to give the Rays a 6-0 lead.
"We got off to a good start and I think it kind of relaxed everybody," Huff said. "I think going out there and putting up six runs, and you have Waechter being able to go out there and not feel like every pitch has to be perfect.
"But again, against that lineup, you can't get too comfortable. That was a big inning to get off to a good start, especially after losing eight in a row. We did everything right tonight.
"It's good we can come in here and relax. The food room is open right after the game. [We can] listen to some music. So it's a little different atmosphere tonight."
Damon Hollins, who had a crucial error in right field in Monday night's loss, fielded his position well in center field and had an RBI double during the first-inning onslaught.
"That felt great," Hollins said. "You just want to keep pounding. Keep going, you know. Don't want it to end."
Tino Martinez got the Yankees on the board with a solo homer in the third, but the Rays' lineup got back to work in the fourth, adding two more on RBIs by Huff and Phelps.
Derek Jeter tripled home two runs in the fifth to cut the Rays lead to 8-3.
By the time Brown was chased after five innings, the Yankees' right-hander had surrendered 13 hits to tie his career high for hits yielded in one game. The last time he surrendered 13 safeties in one game occurred April 14, 1994, against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Meanwhile, Waechter gave the Rays a solid effort.
"Waechter pitched a really good ballgame, pitched really well," said Rays manager Lou Piniella. "That's what you want to see, a young man go out there and be aggressive. Let the ball go, mix up his pitches. He threw seven good innings of baseball; that's what we need from our young starters."
The St. Petersburg native allowed four earned runs on six hits and two walks, and he struck out four.
"Anytime you get runs like that early in the game, it's always a good thing for a pitcher," Waechter said. "I settled in out there a little bit quicker. I pitched a little bit more on the offensive, where you can attack the plate.
"I thought it was a solid outing. I was pleased with the way I threw, especially against a lineup like [the Yankees]. This is a very tough lineup."
While Waechter had the big lead, he didn't change his approach -- even if he was facing the Yankees.
"I approach every lineup in the big leagues like it's a big league lineup," Waechter said. "I mean, any time, any player up here can hurt you. And that's how I approach it. ... I just tried to attack batters and get quick outs so I could go deeper into the game."
Jorge Posada's solo home run was the final blemish on Waechter's evening and cut the lead to 8-4, but the Rays answered again with Toby Hall's two-run double, making the score 10-4. Phelps doubled home the final run in the eighth.
"We tacked on runs [tonight]," Piniella said. "We talked about that. We need to tack on runs. We got six in the first, made it eight, made it 10 and 11. That's what you need to do against this kind of offense."
Piniella had stern words for his team following Monday night's loss. After Tuesday's win, Piniella downplayed the wake-up call he had delivered 24 hours earlier.
"These kids went out and played, and that's really what's important," Piniella said. "We got a good-pitched game tonight, went out and swung the bats. We made some good plays out there and won the ballgame.
"Like I said, I hope it's contagious for us and allows us to win with a little more regularity."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.