ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The 2010 A.J. Burnett waited for a most inopportune time to make his 2011 debut.
When he took the mound with a four-run lead in the sixth inning Monday night, things unraveled quickly for Burnett -- as they have of late for the team he's pitching for -- and the Rays wound up beating the Yankees, 6-5, in front of 25,024 at Tropicana Field.
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Sam Fuld and B.J. Upton hit two-run homers in a five-run sixth by the Rays, who scored the final three runs of the inning with two outs. Johnny Damon also homered for the Rays, who hadn't scored more than five runs in their first 22 home games.
Curtis Granderson's 14th home run, a three-run shot off lefthander David Price in the fifth, had given the Yankees a 5-1 lead. They had taken a 4-1 lead Sunday in a 7-5 loss to Boston.
"These guys came out and gave me a chance and I let it go," Burnett said. "I have to pick us up right there. Take nothing away from the Rays, they're a good-hitting team, but I had way too good stuff. I was locating early and it got away and you can't allow it to happen.''
It was the sixth straight loss for the Yankees (20-19) -- the first time they have lost this many games in a row since a seven-game skid in April 2007 -- and their 10th defeat in their last 13 games.
Joe Girardi repeated what he said after the Boston sweep and before Monday night's game: It will get better. "This is going to turn," he said. "We're going through a really tough stretch. It seems like when things start to go your way, they turn around a little bit. But this is where you're tested as a team and you have to fight through it."
A two-out, two-run single in the second by Eduardo Nuñez and Granderson's homer helped knock out Rays ace Price, who lasted only five innings in which he allowed five runs and six hits.
Russell Martin led off the fifth with a single and Derek Jeter walked with one out. Granderson then finished off an eight-pitch at-bat by crushing Price's 3-and-2 pitch halfway up the stands in right for a 5-1 lead.
It was Granderson's seventh home run in 40 at-bats against lefthanders this season and the first homer Price allowed to a lefthanded hitter since Chase Utley hit one June 23, 2009, a span of 310 at-bats.
In the sixth, John Jaso ripped a double into the rightfield corner and Fuld hammered his second homer of the season, cutting the Rays' deficit to 5-3. Burnett (4-3) retired the next two batters, but Evan Longoria reached on an infield single, advanced to second on a wild pitch and scored on Matt Joyce's single.
After another wild pitch, Upton slammed Burnett's last pitch of the night over the wall in left-center for his sixth homer and a 6-5 Rays lead.
A final indignity for Yankees fans had to be watching the still-despised Kyle Farnsworth work an eight-pitch, 1-2-3 ninth for his eighth save. Juan Cruz, Joel Peralta and Farnsworth retired the final 12 Yankees batters.
"It's never any fun when you go through it," Girardi said of the streak. "For me, it's like when I have to go to the dentist. I know I'm going to get through it but I still dread it every time I go."
Notes & quotes:Since starting off 1-8, the Rays have gone 23-9. They lead the Yankees, Red Sox and Blue Jays by three games . . . Nuñez's throwing error in the second was the Yankees' 14th error in their last 11 games, but with runners on first and third and one out, Casey Kotchman hit into a double play.