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Romo gets save, plays third in Rays’ 3-2 win over Yankees.

July 25, 2018
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Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Sergio Romo reacts after striking out New York Yankees' Brett Gardner in the ninth inning to save a 3-2 Rays win in a baseball game Wednesday, July 25, 2018, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Sergio Romo got to view the game from the perspective of Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and Wade Boggs. And he got a save, too.

Romo relieved in the eighth inning, shifted to third base when Jonny Venters replaced him in the ninth and then struck out Brett Gardner to end the game with two on and give the Tampa Bay Rays a 3-2 win over the New York Yankees on Wednesday.

Romo became the 11th pitcher to also play third base in the same game since 1908, and the first since Philadelphia’s Bill Wilson at Pittsburgh on Aug. 6, 1971, according to Baseball Reference.

“Just to be able to say I played third base in the big league, it’s in the books,” Romo said. “It was a fun game. Very, very fun game.”

Scheduled Rays starter Nathan Eovaldi was traded to AL East-leading Boston about two hours before game time, and manager Kevin Cash used six pitchers to combine on a seven-hitter.

“Cash and the other guys around here aren’t afraid to mix things up,” Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “They thought it was the best chance for us to win, and we did. So they look like geniuses.”

Tampa Bay improved to 19-23 in games it used its bullpen throughout rather than a traditional starting pitcher.

New York has lost just two series since May, and both are against the Rays. Tampa Bay swept three games in late June, took two of three this week and has won six of its last seven against the Yankees. New York, 14-14 over its last 28 games, acquired reliever Zach Britton from Baltimore late Tuesday but said he will not report until Thursday’s homestand opener against Kansas City.

“That’s a tough loss,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “Sure, frustrating.”

Neil Walker hit a sacrifice fly in the second inning, but the Rays took a 3-1 lead in the sixth when Kiermaier hit a two-run homer off Luis Cessa (1-2) and C.J. Cron added a solo drive against Jonathan Holder.

Romo relieved Jose Alvarado with two on and one out in the eighth, allowed Giancarlo Stanton’s sacrifice fly and struck out Gleyber Torres, who went 0 for 3 with a walk in his return from a strained right hip that caused the rookie to miss 15 games. He also made a nifty play up the middle on Matt Duffy’s first-inning grounder.

Venters, a left-hander, relieved to start the ninth and induced a groundout from left-handed hitter Greg Bird. The right-handed Romo returned to the mound, and Adeiny Hechavarria entered at shortstop as Duffy shifted back to third.

Miguel Andujar singled and took second when Duffy was charged with an error for dropping a throw at second on Aaron Hicks’ grounder. Pinch-hitter Austin Romine fouled out on a sliding catch by first baseman Jake Bauers, and Gardner worked the count full before striking out on a sinker that was well outside. Romo got his 12th save in 18 chances.

“We just didn’t have a great game collectively,” Gardner said.

Diego Castillo (2-1), the second Rays reliever, worked two scoreless innings.

Cessa, recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to replaced Domingo German in the rotation, allowed two runs and four hits in 5 1/3 innings.

POWER OUTTAGE

The Yankees have hit just one homer in five games since the All-Star break. They had 30 over the first 15 games this month. Tampa Bay is the first time to hold New York homerless in series of three or more games since Baltimore Sept. 2-4, 2016 at Camden Yards

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: General manager Brian Cashman expects C Gary Sanchez (right groin strain) to be back in last August or early September. ... Hicks (sore left shoulder) was out of the starting lineup for the second straight game but entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh. ... INF Brandon Drury, whose left hand was bruised when hit by a pitch Tuesday, should avoid the DL, according to manager Aaron Boone. ... INF Tyler Wade was optioned to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Rays: AL All-Star C Wilson Ramos (left hamstring strain) will catch when LHP Vidal Nuno (right hamstring strain) throws batting practice Saturday and could start a minor league rehab assignment Monday. ... Venters (right hamstring strain) was activated from the 10-day DL by the Rays, who recalled RHP Austin Pruitt from Triple-A Durham and optioned RHP Chih-Wei Hu to the International League club.

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Sonny Gray (7-7) starts against Kansas City and RHP Jakob Junis (5-10) in the opener of a four-game series.

Rays: Hunter Wood (0-0) will be opener in start a four-game set Thursday night at Baltimore.

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