Series: Game 2 of 2

Series tied 1-1 (as of 4/7)

Game 1: Tuesday, April 6
NY Yankees4Final
Tampa Bay9
Game 2: Wednesday, April 7
NY Yankees3Final
Tampa Bay2

Yankees 3

(2-2, 2-2 away)

Devil Rays 2

(2-2, 2-2 home)

    4:15 PM ET, April 7, 2004

    Tropicana Field, St. Petersburg, Florida 

    123456789 R H E
    NYY 000002001 3 7 1
    TB 000100001 2 8 1

    W: K. Brown (2-0)

    L: P. Abbott (0-1)

    S: M. Rivera (1)

    Brown gets second win against TB

    ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Alex Rodriguez helped his new team with his bat and his glove, making sure Kevin Brown got his 199th victory.

    Rodriguez delivered a game-tying single in the sixth inning, then started a game-ending double play that saved the New York Yankees' 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays on Thursday.

    "That was too close for comfort," the Yankees' third baseman said after bailing Mariano Rivera out of a bases-loaded jam by fielding Brook Fordyce's grounder, stepping on third and throwing to first.

    "Everything is new. It's fun, but stressful at times. ... The game on the line with Mariano. I've never practiced that in my life."

    Brown (2-0) pitched seven strong innings to pull even with teammate Mike Mussina in a bid to become the 76th right-handed pitcher to win 200 games. He beat the Devil Rays for the second time this season, allowing one run on five hits and striking out five.

    A day after hitting his first homer for the Yankees, Rodriguez went 1-for-4 and drove in a run as New York strung together four consecutive hits in the sixth off Paul Abbott (0-1), who held the defending AL champions hitless for five innings.

    Jason Giambi followed with a RBI single that put New York ahead 2-1.

    "It came out the way we planned," said Rivera, who walked Geoff Blum intentionally to load the bases to face Fordyce in the ninth.

    "As soon as the ball was hit toward third, and the way it was bouncing, I said we might have a shot to end it. Either go to home plate or step on third and throw to first. That's the way he did it."

    Rivera allowed Eduardo Perez's RBI double, ending a stretch of 15 consecutive regular-season appearances without allowing a run.

    Yankees manager Joe Torre wasn't surprised that Rodriguez, a former Gold Glove shortstop, made the right play at the end.

    "I watched his instincts in spring training. He's a top athlete. He knows what he's doing on the field," Torre said. "Maybe some third basemen would throw the ball home. But he knew exactly when the ball was hit what he was going to do with it."

    The victory enabled the Yankees to salvage a split of four games against Tampa Bay to start the season. Just like last week in Japan, Brown won following a Mussina loss.

    "Any time you play the Yankees and you split with them, you feel good," Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella said. "The only problem is we were in position to win. What are you going to do? ... If our team continues to play like this, we'll be just fine."

    After being limited to four hits in a 9-4 loss Tuesday night, the Yankees struggled at the plate again until Kenny Lofton broke up Abbott's no-hit bid with a ground single up the middle with one out in the sixth. New York finished with seven hits.

    Derek Jeter followed with a double to the left-field corner, just his second hit in 14 at-bats to start the season. Rodriquez singled for the third straight hit off Abbott, driving in Lofton to make it 1-all, then Jeter scored on Giambi's single to right.

    Abbott, one of 14 offseason additions to the Devil Rays' roster, only allowed two runners to reach base in the first five innings.

    The 36-year-old right-hander walked Hideki Matsui with two outs in the second and Giambi reached with two outs in the fourth when third baseman Aubrey Huff booted a routine ground ball for an error.

    "We played those guys tough," said Abbott, who allowed two runs on four hits, walked two and struck out three in six innings. "All you can do is the best you can, and when you do that you hope to come away with a win. they're a tough team and we didn't, so it makes it hard."

    Tampa Bay loaded the bases in the fourth on singles by Rocco Baldelli, Robert Fick and Jose Cruz, Jr., but only managed to score when Perez grounded into a force play at third.

    The Yankees starter also benefited from two nice plays in the outfield after going ahead in the top of the sixth.

    Gary Sheffield robbed Fick of an extra-base hit leading off the bottom of the sixth with an over-the-shoulder catch in deep right. The next batter, Huff, drove the ball to the wall in straightaway center, where Bernie Williams made the catch.

    "Just like in Japan, all of his pitches were working," Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford said of Brown. "When that guy is on, he's going to be pretty tough to hit, so we just had to try to battle all game against him and make things happen."

    Game notes

    Williams reached on a fielder's choice, went to third on Jorge Posada's single and scored on Enrique Wilson's sacrifice fly in the ninth. ... Devil Rays senior advisor and former Yankees 3B coach Don Zimmer threw out the ceremonial first pitch. All fans received a Don Zimmer mask. The popular long-time Tampa Bay-area resident left the Yankees because of differences with New York owner George Steinbrenner. ... Tampa Bay INF-OF Charles Gipson, designated for assignment on Monday, was outrighted to Triple-A Durham. ... Williams started in center field because Lofton had some tightness in his left thigh. Lofton remained in the lineup and batted leadoff as the designated hitter.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press