ST. PETERSBURG -- Rays starter Nathan Karns gave up two runs in the first, but he responded with four shutout innings to help the Rays secure a 3-2 victory over the Yankees on Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
"Interesting start to the ballgame," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I don't know how many times you see a starting pitcher come out and throw nine, 10 straight balls to start off the game, but to his credit, to settle back in, give us five innings -- really impressive outing by Karnsy.
"... I don't think he had many easy innings. That's probably a credit to the Yankees' hitters, but [he] made some pitches when he had to."
The Yankees jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to RBI singles by Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann, but Steven Souza Jr. launched a solo home run over the center-field fence in the bottom half of the first to cut their lead to one. Asdrubal Cabrera tied things up in the second with an RBI double and Joey Butler gave the Rays the lead with a single on the ensuing at-bat.
The Rays' bullpen followed Karns' lead, allowing just three hits in four innings of work. Brad Boxberger put things to rest with a perfect ninth to record his 10th save of the season.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Quick start, then quiet: For the second consecutive night, the Yankees made some first-inning noise before watching a Tampa Bay hurler settle down. This time, it was Karns, who issued walks to the first two Yankees hitters and then permitted run-scoring singles to Teixeira and McCann. Karns wriggled free as he struck out Carlos Beltran looking and got Stephen Drew to pop out.
"We just have to do a better job with men on base," Teixeira said. "It just wasn't our night with men on base tonight. We just have to do a better job of that."
Making 1,000 count: Cabrera collected his 1,000th career hit in the second inning, shooting a 1-0 pitch from Yankees starter Adam Warren into the gap in left-center for an RBI double that scored Logan Forsythe to knot the score at 2. Cabrera came around to score two pitches later when Butler hit a blooper into right field to give the Rays the lead. More >
Six shooter: For the first time in 10 career starts, Warren was able to complete six innings, limiting Tampa Bay to three runs over seven frames. He was just one of nine Major League pitchers (and the only Yankee) since 1914 not to complete six innings in any of his first nine career starts. The only hurlers with longer streaks were Johan Santana and Travis Blackley (11). More >
"He located well. I thought his stuff got better as the night went on," manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought he used all his pitches. I thought his changeup was pretty effective to some of the right-handed hitters. He started hitting his spots."
Kiermaier's cannon: Beltran's single in the fifth looked like it may tie the ballgame at 3, but Kevin Kiermaier had other ideas. With Teixeira rounding third, Kiermaier scooped up the ball and fired to home plate. After receiving the ball on two bounces, Bobby Wilson swiped and tagged Teixeira on the side to prevent the run from scoring.
"I moved in about two or three steps," Kiermaier said. "I thought that Beltran would have to hit really good to get it over my head and Teixeira is getting a big secondary lead with where Cabrera was holding him on, so I scooted in a few steps right before that [hit], and thankfully it ended up working out because it was a bang-bang play and if I didn't take those two steps in who knows what would have happened."
"[I was thinking] I better throw a strike sometime soon. That's about it. I got a nice cheer from the crowd when I got the first one in, so that was nice." -- Karns, on what he was thinking after throwing nine straight balls to open the game.
The Yankees challenged catcher Wilson's block of home plate in the fifth when Teixeira was tagged out trying to score on a single by Beltran. After review, the call on the field was confirmed. More >
"I didn't think I was safe. I was just wondering if we could maybe steal one from a technicality," Teixeira said. "I guess the rule says you've got to give the runner a lane. I was hoping that maybe we could steal one. I was out. It didn't work."
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:Chase Whitley (1-1, 3.06 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season on Thursday at 7:10 p.m. ET as the Yankees wrap up this four-game series at Tropicana Field. Whitley lost his last time out, serving up a career-high three home runs to the Orioles. He beat the Rays in his season debut on April 28 in New York.
Rays:Erasmo Ramirez (0-1, 8.38 ERA) will try to fare better than he has in his previous two starts, during which he has allowed a combined 10 runs (nine earned) in 7 1/3 innings. In three relief appearances against the Yankees this year, he has allowed two runs -- both on a Teixeira home run Monday -- in four innings.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. Troy Provost-Heron is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.