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Matt Joyce's Dinger The Difference; Rays Cut Yankees' East Lead In Half

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - Matt Joyce hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning, lifting the Tampa Bay Rays to a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees in the opener of a critical three-game series.

The Rays entered the series two games behind the Yankees in the AL East, and gained ground thanks to Joyce's big hit. Tampa Bay also won its seventh straight game.

Rays starter Wade Davis (9-9) gave up a two-run homer to Nick Swisher in the first inning, but shut the Yankees down for the rest of his seven-inning start. He allowed four hits, walked three and struck out six, and won his fourth consecutive start.

Phil Hughes (12-4) gave up Joyce's homer and took the loss for the Yankees. That home run was one of only four hits given up in six innings by Hughes, who also walked two and fanned six.

Alex Rodriguez remained stuck on 599 career home runs after going 0-for-4. It has been eight games since he hit No. 599 on July 22 against Kansas City.

Davis was shaky at the beginning of his start, giving up a single to Derek Jeter before Swisher ripped a first-pitch fastball to right field for his 19th homer of the season.

But Davis settled down, striking out Mark Teixeira and Rodriguez on his way out of the inning. The right-hander didn't allow a runner past second base for the remainder of his outing.

Hughes, meanwhile, avoided trouble until the sixth inning, which John Jaso began with a single. After Carl Crawford flied out, Jaso moved to second on a wild pitch. Hughes walked Evan Longoria before Carlos Pena grounded into a fielder's choice, leaving runners on the corners with two away.

Joyce stepped up next and crushed a 2-2 pitch, which Hughes left up, to right field to put the Rays in front.

After Davis set the Yankees down in order in the seventh, Joaquin Benoit worked a perfect eighth. Rodriguez led off the ninth against Rafael Soriano, but fouled out. Soriano retired the next two batters to seal the victory and earn his 29th save.

The Rays lead the season series, 5-4, and improved to 26-13 vs. the division...Robinson Cano had a game-high two hits for New York...The Yankees on Friday acquired outfielder Austin Kearns from Cleveland for a player to be named later. They also reportedly have a deal in place to acquire Lance Berkman from the Houston Astros, though that trade can not be made official until Saturday.