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Three home runs help Luis Severino beat Rays, 5-2

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino throws

New York Yankees starting pitcher Luis Severino throws a pitch to the Tampa Bay Rays in the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium in New York, September 4, 2015. Credit: Ray Stubblebine

Pennant-race pressure?

If Luis Severino is feeling any, it isn't showing.

In his sixth big-league start, the 21-year-old rookie righthander was as unflappable as he had been in his first five, leading the Yankees to a 5-2 victory over the Rays Friday night in front of 32,530 at the Stadium.

"I have confidence every time I take the mound," said Severino (3-2, 2.04), who allowed one run and seven hits in 61/3 innings in winning his third straight game. "My team makes me comfortable."

Again displaying three out pitches with his fastball, slider and changeup, Severino walked three and struck out five. "He's just got poise," Brian McCann said. "He belongs, he knows he belongs. He continues to show people that he belongs."

The Yankees had only four hits, but three of them were homers: two-run blasts by Alex Rodriguez and Greg Bird and a solo shot by McCann off Jake Odorizzi (6-8, 3.35).

The win, coupled with the Blue Jays' 10-2 loss to the Orioles in Toronto, allowed the Yankees (75-58) to pull within a half-game of AL East-leading Toronto (76-58). It was only the Jays' seventh loss in 33 games. The Yankees have won six of seven to move a season-high 17 games over .500.

Odorizzi allowed only three hits in 62/3 innings for the Rays -- homers by Rodriguez in the second, McCann in the fourth to make it 3-0 and Bird in the seventh for a 5-1 lead. It was A-Rod's 27th, McCann's 24th and Bird's fourth. McCann's blast made him 11-for-17 with three homers and 10 RBIs against Odorizzi.

"We have guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark," said McCann, who nailed Logan Forsythe trying to steal in the second and has thrown out 22 of 58 (37.9 percent) base-stealers this season. "We take our walks. We can beat you in a lot of different ways."

The Rays' lone run against Severino came in the sixth when Evan Longoria homered to make it 3-1. It was Longoria's 14th career homer in the new Stadium, second only to Toronto's Jose Bautista (15) for the most by a visiting player.

Joe Girardi pulled Severino after Grady Sizemore's infield single with one out in the seventh, calling on Justin Wilson to face Daniel Nava, who doubled in the first. Pinch hitter Brandon Guyer and Longoria flied out to end the inning.

After Adam Warren allowed an RBI double by J.P. Arencibia with one out in the ninth, Andrew Miller earned his 30th save in 31 chances.

It was another outing in which Severino pitched with little run support. During his 351/3 innings, the Yankees have scored 11 runs while he was in the game -- five in his first victory Aug. 22 against the Indians and six in 291/3 innings in the other five games.

He did face occasional trouble against the Rays but pitched out of it.

Nava doubled with one out in the first but Severino induced back-to-back groundouts to end the eight-pitch inning.

James Loney singled with two outs in the second and Kevin Kiermaier walked, but Severino struck out Arencibia with a 96-mph fastball for the third out.

Severino walked Asdrubal Cabrera with two outs in the sixth and allowed an infield single by Loney but got Kiermaier swinging at a 96-mph fastball.

"We knew he threw very well when he was in Double-A and Triple-A, but until you actually go through it up here, you're always wondering how a guy is going to adapt," Girardi said. "And he has adapted very well."

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