3 more hits for Jeter in Yanks' win

September 14, 2008 2:24:23 PM PDT
Derek Jeter collected three hits for the third straight game, Alex Rodriguez belted a grand slam and the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 8-4 Sunday to win the weekend series against the AL East leaders.Jeter moved into a tie with Lou Gehrig for most career hits at Yankee Stadium and Jason Giambi hit a two-run homer for New York, still clinging to faint playoff hopes during its final series at its longtime home.

Mariano Rivera entered with two on in the ninth and struck out Erick Aybar for his 35th save in 36 opportunities. The All-Star closer also moved into a tie with Lee Smith for second on the career list with 478 saves.

Fernando Perez hit a three-run drive for Tampa Bay, which has a two-game division lead over Boston. It was Perez's first career homer.

The Rays host the Red Sox in the opener of a three-game series Monday night.

Oft-injured Yankees pitcher Carl Pavano (3-1) allowed three earned runs and five hits before he was booed off the mound in the sixth inning following a visit by the trainer and manager Joe Girardi.

Pavano was pitching to Eric Hinske with one out and a runner on first when he got the mound visit. After a short discussion, Pavano walked off as the sellout crowd, familiar with his injury history, showered him with boos.

New York didn't immediately announce a reason for Pavano's departure. The right-hander has started only 24 games for the Yankees since signing a four-year, $39.95 million contract before the 2005 season.

David Price, the top overall pick in the 2007 draft, made his major league debut for Tampa Bay and threw 5 1-3 impressive innings in relief of struggling starter Edwin Jackson. The 6-foot-6 left-hander allowed two runs and three hits, spending much of the outing in the upper 90s.

Price retired six straight before Jeter led off the fifth with his 11th homer, giving him 1,269 hits at the House that Ruth Built.

The sellout crowd of 54,279 roared as the captain rounded the bases after his opposite-field drive to right, and cheered even louder when he came out of the dugout for a curtain call.

The fans continued to chant the shortstop's name as Giambi batted against Price, who struck out four and walked none.

Jeter had a chance to break the record in the seventh but grounded into a double play. He'll likely get another opportunity Monday night when New York opens a four-game series against the Chicago White Sox.

The Yankees, almost certain to miss the playoffs for the first time since 1993, are nine games behind wild card-leading Boston.

The Rays loaded the bases after Pavano departed, and Damaso Marte walked Akinori Iwamura to make it 7-4. Jason Bartlett followed with a sinking liner but Brett Gardner made a terrific tumbling catch to end the inning.

Gardner also made a diving catch to rob Gabe Gross of a hit in the eighth.

Jackson (11-11) never looked comfortable and dropped to 0-3 in his past three starts. He allowed New York's first three batters to reach before Rodriguez hit a 3-1 pitch into the bleachers in right-center for his 17th career grand slam.

Rodriguez reached 100 RBIs for the 11th straight season with his 34th homer of the year. It also gave him at least 100 runs in 13 consecutive seasons.

Jeter reached on a perfectly placed bunt single and Giambi finished a 12-pitch at-bat with a walk to set up A-Rod's first grand slam since Sept. 25, 2007, at Tampa Bay.

Giambi connected in the second, driving a 2-1 offering from Jackson into the upper deck in right to make it 6-3. It was his 30th of the year.