ST. PETERSBURG -- CC Sabathia finally received the run support he had been craving all season, grabbing his first victory in more than a year as the Yankees hit five home runs to post an 11-5 win over the Rays on Monday night at Tropicana Field.
"CC pitched really, really well," Gardner said. "Everybody from top to bottom, we really swung the bats well, came up with some big hits with guys on base. It felt good. He's pitched a lot better than the numbers show. It felt good to spot him a few runs early and just give him some breathing room."
Sabathia surrendered an RBI double in the first then settled into a nice rhythm to earn his first victory since April 24, 2014. The lefty allowed four runs (three earned) with nine strikeouts over seven innings.
"Just for us to win a game that I started is huge," Sabathia said. "It's the first game of the series and a team in our division who we've struggled with since I've been here, so it's big to get this win."
"I think if you look over the course of a Major League season with any team, there's going to be some rough nights," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Tonight, obviously, was a rough night for us."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED CC settles in: Not only had Sabathia gone more than a year without a big league win, but the Yankees had lost eight of his last nine starts at Tropicana Field. He started on a shaky note, walking the first two batters he faced and serving up a run-scoring double, but Sabathia then used a strong sinker to pound the zone and retire 14 of the next 15 hitters he faced. More >
"I think that's a big part of how I've got to pitch, coming in to righties and getting them off my other stuff," Sabathia said. "They did a good job of not chasing my changeup, so I had to use other pitches to get them out."
Back-to-back blasts: One of the few bright spots for the Rays came in the seventh when Forsythe and Butler hit back-to-back home runs off Sabathia. Forsythe has been part of the Rays' only back-to-back homers this season, joining with Allan Dykstra to turn the trick on April 17 against the Yankees.
Bombs away: Rodriguez's first-inning launch to deep left field, career homer No. 662 and tracked at 428 feet by Statcast™, was an indication of things to come for the Yanks' bats. Headley swelled the lead with a line-drive three-run shot to right field in the fourth inning, his fourth of the season, Beltran slugged his second homer in as many games in the fifth and Gardner joined the fun with a three-run shot in the sixth. Teixeira's two-run homer in the ninth came off Erasmo Ramirez.
"I think the guys felt good at the plate tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Colome was tough the first time through the lineup, then we got to him a little bit the second time and the third time through the lineup. But he was locating his fastball well and getting ahead of our hitters, then all of a sudden we had some at-bats that we put on him, and get a big three-run homer from Headley."
"We had too many barreled balls go against us." -- Cash, on the Yankees' power Monday night.
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The four home runs surrendered by Colome were the most by a Rays pitcher at Tropicana Field since Scott Kazmir gave up four on Sept. 15, 2008, against the Red Sox.
The Rays challenged catcher Brian McCann's block of home plate in the first when Steven Souza Jr. was tagged out by the catcher trying to score on Forsythe's double. After review, the call on the field was confirmed.
"That's a huge play in the first inning by Didi [Gregorius], gunning down Souza Jr. at home plate, because you're looking at a couple of runs and only one out and you're in the middle of their order," Girardi said. "I thought that was a big play of the game."
DIDI SECURES FINAL OUT OFF CATWALK
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Beckham skied a deep fly ball toward the top of the dome, sending Gardner hustling toward the left-field line. Instead of dropping into Gardner's glove, though, the ball caromed off the B Ring catwalk and was caught by Gregorius at short. More >
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:Nathan Eovaldi (3-0, 3.97 ERA) will make his first career start against the Rays on Tuesday, as the Yankees play the second game of this four-game series at Tropicana Field at 7:10 p.m. ET. Eovaldi has allowed three or fewer runs in five of his six starts as a Yankee.
Rays:Chris Archer (3-4, 2.59 ERA) will try and rebound from Thursday's start, when the Rangers touched him for five runs in 3 1/3 innings. He is 0-2 with an 8.68 ERA in his last two starts compared to 3-2 with a 0.84 ERA in his first five starts this season.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.