Kazmir shines as Rays beat Yankees

May 15, 2008 5:17:37 PM PDT
Scott Kazmir sparkled in his first start since agreeing to a $28.5 million contract extension, and the surprising Tampa Bay Rays dropped the New York Yankees into last place with a 5-2 victory Thursday.Kazmir (2-1) allowed three singles in six scoreless innings, and Akinori Iwamura and Shawn Riggans homered off Ian Kennedy for the AL East-leading Rays.

Tampa Bay (24-17), which started play in 1998, has been alone atop the division standings for three consecutive days for the first time. The Rays won three of four from New York and have captured six of seven series in building the best record in the AL.

The Yankees have lost six of nine and got another a poor pitching performance from Kennedy (0-3), who was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre for his sixth start of the season.

New York (20-22), struggling with Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada on the disabled list, was shut out until seventh-inning RBI singles by Derek Jeter and Melky Cabrera off Gary Glover. The struggling Yankees scored six runs in the series, only two off Rays starters.

Kazmir, a 24-year-old left-hander agreed Wednesday to a three-year extension through 2011, a deal with a club option that could raise the contract's value to $39.5 million over four seasons. He walked three and struck out three in his third start since spending April on the disabled list with a left elbow strain.

Iwamura hit the third leadoff of his career in the first inning, and Riggans added a two-run shot off Kennedy that made it 4-0 in the fourth. Carl Crawford and B.J. Upton also drove in runs for the Rays with sacrifice flies.

Troy Percival pitched a perfect ninth for his 10th save in 12 opportunities.

Kennedy was sent to the minors after going 0-2 with an 8.37 ERA in six appearances, including five starts. The demotion May 4 turned out to be a short one when the right-hander didn't allow a run in eight innings at Scranton/Wilkes Barre.

He had given up just two homers in 42 2-3 major-league innings before Iwamura hit his fourth pitch of the game into the right field seats. Riggans hit his third of the season, one pitch after Eric Hinske doubled to right.

Kennedy gave up a single, a walk and hit a batter to load the bases with no outs in the third. Crawford drove in a run with a sacrifice fly, but the Rays wasted an opportunity to break the game open Upton grounded out and Kennedy struck out Carlos Pena to end the inning.

The Yankees starter gave up five runs and five hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three.