ST. PETERSBURG -- Adam Warren may have wondered if there was some sort of invisible barrier preventing him from completing six innings, but the right-hander was able to bust through on Wednesday, working a career-high seven frames in the Yankees' 3-2 loss to the Rays.
Warren notched the first quality start of his career, allowing three runs and seven hits over seven innings. That brought some measure of satisfaction, even though he walked out of Tropicana Field tagged with his second loss in seven starts this year.
"It's something that I was aware of," Warren said. "It really became a goal of mine to get there. The first couple attempts at it, I was pushing too hard, trying to do too much. I think just getting stronger as I'm going on, staying ahead in the count, not trying to do too much worked for me."
All three runs Warren permitted came in the first two innings. Steven Souza Jr. hit a first-inning homer to center field and Warren allowed three hits in the second inning, including Asdrubal Cabrera's RBI double and Joey Butler's RBI single.
Warren's previous career high was a six-inning relief outing on June 13, 2013, at Oakland, and he rung up a career-high seven strikeouts in Wednesday's effort.
"Some of the hits I gave up weren't terrible pitches, they just weren't as good as I wanted them to be," Warren said. "I feel like my command got a little better as I went along and got ahead in the count. That makes a big difference."
Warren finished strong, retiring his last 10 batters faced and needing just 30 pitches to navigate his final three innings.
"He located well," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought his stuff got better as the night went on. 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."
Warren won the fifth-starter job with a strong spring, but the Yanks have some help on the way with left-hander Chris Capuano, right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and right-hander Ivan Nova all rehabbing from injuries. Warren said that he has been able to block out any uncertainty about his future.
"I'm trying not to think about who's coming back," Warren said. "I'm just trying to help the team win. I've said all along that whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do, and be happy about it. Right now I'm starting and trying to give the team a chance to win every time out."
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.