- Kieran Darcy, ESPNNewYork.com
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What it means: The Yankees' offense continues to sputter. And Andy Pettitte wasn't as sharp as usual.
The result? An ugly loss in the opener of this four-game series.
The Yanks have now dropped seven of nine to fall to 39-33 -- third place in the American League East, 3½ behind the first-place Red Sox.
The Rays improved to 38-35 -- fourth place, five games back.
Early trouble: Pettitte worked around a leadoff double in the first inning but wasn't as fortunate in the second and third.
Wil Myers led off the second inning with a single, eventually scoring on a sacrifice fly by Jose Lobaton. Pettitte had a wild pitch in the inning, which allowed Myers to advance from second base to third.
Pettitte didn't allow a hit in the fourth or fifth but surrendered a leadoff home run to Longoria in the sixth.
More of the same: After garnering just three hits against the Dodgers in the nightcap of Wednesday's doubleheader, the Yankees had just six on Thursday against the Rays -- five singles (two infield) and a double.
Tampa Bay starter Matt Moore had a brilliant April and May but had lost his past three starts, getting shelled in the process. He got back on track against the Yankees, holding them to just two hits through the first five innings.
Trailing 4-0 entering the bottom of the sixth, the Yankees put three runs on the board to get back in the game. But don't be fooled -- the Yanks had just one hit in the inning, a leadoff single by Reid Brignac. That was followed by back-to-back walks to Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix to load the bases with no one out.
Remarkably, the Yankees pushed three runs across without a single hit from there. Brignac scored on a wild pitch, Gardner scored on a sac fly and Nix scored on a groundout to shortstop. Not exactly impressive.
Finishing touches: Pettitte gave up one more run -- in the seventh -- courtesy of back-to-back doubles by Jennings and Rodriguez, before being sent to the showers.
Joba Chamberlain was victimized in the eighth, when Longoria launched his second homer of the ballgame. And Boone Logan gave up the Rays' final two runs, on a Matt Joyce double followed by a Yunel Escobar long ball into Monument Park.
What's next: The second game of this series, Friday at 7:05 p.m. David Phelps (4-4, 4.08 ERA) will start for the Yankees, opposed by Roberto Hernandez (4-7, 5.02 ERA) -- the artist formerly known as Fausto Carmona.
NEW YORK -- A quick take on the New York Yankees' 8-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday at Yankee Stadium:What it means: The Yankees' offense continues to sputter.