Granderson, Garcia lead Yankees past Rays

Outfielder Curtis Granderson #14 of the New York

Outfielder Curtis Granderson #14 of the New York Yankees homers against the Tampa Bay Rays. (July 20, 2011) (Credit: Getty Images)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Nice comeback game by Curtis Granderson, albeit one that came with some pain.

After losing a ball in the Tropicana Field roof Tuesday night that helped lead to a one-run loss, Granderson, with a big boost from Freddy Garcia, led the Yankees to a 4-0 victory over the Rays Wednesday in front of a crowd of 21,505.

First, Granderson crushed a two-run homer in the first inning off lefthander David Price (9-8). Garcia, with much speculation about his spot in the rotation as the non-waivers trade deadline approaches, produced one of his best starts of the season. He was aided by a spectacular Granderson catch, complete with a crash into the centerfield wall, that saved two runs.

Granderson also fouled a ball off his right calf -- like the catch, that sent him to the ground -- in the sixth, and was plunked between the shoulder blades by a Price 95-mph fastball in the eighth.

"Ouch," Joe Girardi said when asked to describe Granderson's night. "It started off great with the two-run homer, then he hit a ball off his calf, then he got drilled in the back. So it started off great and ended up as an ouch. He is a little bit beat up."

Granderson, whose homer gave him a team-best 26, didn't contradict his manager, though he anticipates being able to play in Thursday night's series finale.

"I was able to stay in the ballgame tonight," Granderson said. "We'll see how things go waking up in the morning. But I should be fine, should be ready to go."

Boone Logan (one-third of an inning) and David Robertson (one inning) provided a steady bridge to Mariano Rivera. Because of Eduardo Nuñez's two-run single in the ninth, the closer came on in a non-save situation (and pitched a perfect inning, striking out two). Robertson struck out two of his three batters in the eighth, making him unscored upon in 20 road appearances.

The Yankees stayed 1½ games behind the first-place Red Sox and moved 6½ games ahead of the third-place Rays.

Granderson's defensive gem came in the fifth. Johnny Damon, who had two hits, singled with one out. Casey Kotchman's double with two outs put runners on second and third. Evan Longoria fell in an 0-and-2 hole but battled back to 2-and-2. He sent the next pitch to deep center. Granderson sprinted back, reached the track, took another step and saw the ball into his glove as he crashed into the wall. He fell but held the ball for the third out.

"Oh, man, I wasn't sure," Russell Martin said when asked if he thought Granderson, who was playing in, had a shot at Longoria's drive. "I was crossing my fingers. It was a hell of a catch. Definitely a game-saver for us."

Granderson said he got scraped up hitting the ground but was fortunate where he ran into the wall.

"The good thing is this wall doesn't have much behind it," he said. "There's a lot of give. It probably looked a lot worse than it actually was."

Garcia (8-7, 3.21 ERA) allowed eight hits in 62/3 innings. Usually not a strikeout pitcher, he struck out seven, a big reason he kept the Rays, who were 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position, off the board.

"It doesn't matter how hard I throw, I'll find ways to get people out," said Garcia, whose fastball averaged 86.1 mph, according to PitchFx. "A lot of people throw hard but can't get anyone out."

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