ST. PETERSBURG -- Luis Severino bounced back from the roughest outing of his brief Major League career, Greg Bird homered and drove in two runs and the Yankees defeated the Rays, 3-1, on Wednesday at Tropicana Field.
The Yankees took two of three games from the Rays in the series, remaining three games behind the Blue Jays in the American League East chase as the 21-year-old Severino limited Tampa Bay to a run on six hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out seven.
"It's been great. We want to win," said Severino, who had allowed a career-high six runs to the Blue Jays in his last start. "We want to help the team win every time we go out there and have a good outing for the team."
The Yankees produced two runs in six innings off Rays starter Chris Archer, who scattered four hits and four walks, striking out seven. Bird doubled home a run in the second inning and Chase Headley connected for a run-scoring single in the sixth.
Bird hit his seventh career homer in the ninth off Andrew Bellatti, a tape-measure shot to right field that struck the "D" ring catwalk -- the first to do so at Tropicana Field this season. Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller combined for 3 1/3 scoreless innings, with Miller securing his 34th save.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Banking with Chase: Hits were difficult for the Yankees to come by facing Archer, who permitted just four through six innings, so they had to make them count. Headley delivered a key two-out hit in the sixth, fisting a soft flare into left field for a run-scoring single that chased Brian McCann home from second base. Bird's second-inning double drove home the other run off Archer.
"I thought it was really important," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We're facing a guy that has pitched great all season long and has been tough on us. We made him work hard. We didn't get a ton of runs off him, but we made him work hard and he was out after six innings. I give our guys a lot of credit; this is a tough park to play in."
Archer passes Kazmir: When Archer struck out Brett Gardner for the second out in the third inning, he set the Rays' single-season record for strikeouts with 240. In the process, he surpassed Scott Kazmir, who had held the mark since 2007. More >
Betances escapes: The Yankees called upon Betances with two outs and no one on in the seventh inning, relieving Wilson, and the All-Star proceeded to issue three straight walks to load the bases. That brought up James Loney, who had hits in each of his first three at-bats, but Betances recovered to strike out the first baseman and end the inning.
"I felt like I was rushing, so my breaking ball was breaking too much and not over the plate," Betances said. "It was more side to side. The fastball as well; just one of those things. I've got to slow myself down, try to stay back. The good thing is that we won."
Bad bunt:Steven Souza Jr. singled off Betances to lead off the eighth. With Souza representing the tying run, the next batter, Nick Franklin, attempted a sacrifice bunt that he popped up to third. And once Headley hauled in the popup, he threw to first to double up Souza, who tried to steal second on the play.
"Just a miscommunication," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I take responsibility for that."
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Rays hitters went 0-for-9 with five strikeouts with runners in scoring position. The Rays have gone hitless with runners in scoring position in four of their last five games, going 2-for-30 over that span.
When Souza's sixth-inning double appeared to strike one of Tropicana Field's catwalks, a crew chief review ensued. After review, it was ruled that the call on the field stands and Souza had an RBI double rather than a two-run homer.
"You can't hold the umpire too accountable on that one," Souza said. "I don't know if you can see that with the HD cam."
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Following an off-day on Thursday, the very first September Subway Series games will be played at Citi Field as Masahiro Tanaka (12-6, 3.40 ERA) draws the starting assignment against Steven Matz (3-0, 1.88 ERA). Tanaka pitched a shutout in his only other Citi Field outing last May. Friday's game is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.
Rays:Matt Moore (1-4, 8.42 ERA) will start the opener against the Orioles on Thursday at 7:10 p.m., and he hopes to be more competitive than he's been since returning from Tommy John surgery. Ideally, the Rays would like to get him on track so he can head into the offseason with a positive outlook for the 2016 season. He has gone five innings or fewer in nine consecutive starts.
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.