ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Some bounce-back by the rookie -- on a night the Yankees certainly needed it.
Five days after the worst outing of his brief career, Luis Severino turned in a solid, at times spectacular outing in the Yankees' 3-1 victory over the Rays last night at Tropicana Field.
Severino (4-3), who allowed six runs in 21/3 innings Friday in an 11-5 loss to the Blue Jays, allowed a run and six hits in 52/3 innings against the Rays. The 21-year-old righthander walked one, struck out seven and lowered his ERA from 3.35 to 3.12.
He said the difference was "command. This time I commanded my fastball. I had a rough outing last time and I wanted to get better.''
He was one of two rookies leading the Yankees (80-65), who start a three-game series against the Mets Friday at Citi Field. They head to Toronto after that for three against the Blue Jays, who lead them by three games in the AL East.
Twenty-one-year-old first baseman Greg Bird went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and his seventh homer, a monstrous solo shot to rightfield in the ninth that made it 3-1. The ball bounced off the seldom-hit "D'' ring overhanging the field.
"It's been a lot of fun to watch,'' said Jacoby Ellsbury, who snapped a 25 at-bat hitless skid with a first-inning single against Chris Archer. He had two hits off the Rays ace to improve to 16-for-22 against him.
"Severino was electric tonight, keeps hitters off balance. Can't say enough about his poise, and Bird the same way. Very good at-bats every time. He's been very impressive.''
The Yankees had only six hits but beat Archer (12-12, 2.95) for the second time in 11 days.
"I thought [the win] was really important,'' Joe Girardi said, "And we're facing a guy who's pitched great against us. I give our guys a lot of credit.''
Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless inning in relief of Severino, giving way to Dellin Betances with two outs in the seventh. He walked the bases loaded to bring up James Loney, who had three hits in the game and was 4-for-7 in his career against Betances. He struck out on three pitches.
"I was a little sluggish and was out there trying to do too much,'' Betances said. "It's definitely frustrating. I can't be doing that.''
After a scoreless eighth by Betances, Andrew Miller struck out the side in the ninth for his 34th save in 35 chances.
Bird's double in the second brought Carlos Beltran around from first to make it 1-0. Chase Headley's groundout to the right side moved Bird to third, but Archer kept him there, getting Didi Gregorius to ground to first and Dustin Ackley to fly to center.
The Yankees made it 2-0 in the sixth on Chase Headley's RBI single off a tiring Archer.
The Rays finally scored in the sixth when Loney singled and scored when Steven Souza Jr. crushed a double to left-center. Umpires reviewed the play because it looked as if the ball might have hit one of the overhanging rings, making it a home run, but there was not conclusive evidence.
"I'm not sure what happened,'' centerfielder Ellsbury said.
Severino struck out Nick Franklin for the second out, and Girardi brought on Wilson, who struck out Kevin Kiermaier.
"It's awesome,'' Bird said of Severino, a teammate this season in Triple-A. "He's a competitor. You know what you're going to get every day when he grabs the ball. You want to play behind him. I knew he'd [succeed].''