NEW YORK -- Mark Teixeira hit his 11th career grand slam as the Yankees outlasted both the Rays and three rain delays to post their sixth straight win on Friday, a 7-5 victory at Yankee Stadium that moved them just one game off the pace for a postseason berth.
Teixeira was summoned for a curtain call following his fourth-inning blast off Kevin Jepsen, which landed in the right-field bullpen. Slugging rookie Gary Sanchez also hit his 12th home run as the Yankees (75-65) improved to a season-high 10 games over .500, trailing the Orioles and Tigers by just a game for the second American League Wild Card.
"I hope there's a lot more, but to me, it was a big home run," Teixeira said. "I didn't know how many more grand slams I had left in me, so it was nice to get one tonight."
Dellin Betances recorded the final three outs despite a 51-minute delay in the top of the ninth. The Yankees now sit two games behind the Blue Jays for the first Wild Card spot, and are four games in back of the division-leading Red Sox in the AL East.
"We've got to keep it going," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I said it all along: Everything was right in front of us because of the teams we were playing."
The Rays got an erratic start from rookie left-hander Blake Snell, who needed 88 pitches to complete 2 2/3 innings. Tampa Bay lost for the fifth time in six games.
"Another long day at the ballpark," Rays manager Kevin Cash said.
"I've never seen anything like that, three rain delays," Souza said. "But I like the way we stayed in it."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Long distance Tex message: It has been a rough year for Teixeira, who has battled injuries and underperformance coming off a 31-homer campaign in 2015, which is why he seemed to enjoy this Yankee Stadium moment so much. Teixeira waved to all corners of the stadium as he celebrated what could be the final grand slam of his career. Teixeira announced on Aug. 5 that he will retire at the conclusion of the season.
"I'm emptying the tank," Teixeira said. "Whatever I have left, it's going to be thrown out onto the field. If we are still in this toward the end of the season, I want to be a big part of this team." More >
Not going anywhere: The umpires again called for the tarp with a 2-2 count on Brad Miller and one out in the top of the ninth, but in Betances' mind, a 51-minute delay was not taking him out of this contest. Betances said that he rode a stationary bicycle and applied heat to his arm, and Girardi even said that he thought the closer looked sharper when play resumed.
"I wasn't coming out of that game," Betances said. "It was going to be hard for me to come out. I got myself in that situation, so I'm trying to do whatever I can to stay loose and make sure that I'm ready to go."
Souza loves New York: Souza Jr. homered for the fifth time in seven games at Yankee Stadium this season, when he connected off Pineda in the fourth inning Friday. Souza also homered off Pineda twice in a game in April, and he hit two in the series opener Thursday. Evan Longoria, in 2013, is the only other Ray to hit five home runs at Yankee Stadium in one season. The five homers are the most by any visiting player against the Yankees this year.
"Just taking a simple approach," Souza said. "See the ball and hit it."
Another early exit: Snell has a 3.62 ERA through the first 16 starts of his rookie season. Not bad. But four times in his past six starts, Snell hasn't been able to make it out of the fourth inning. He didn't make it out of the third inning Friday, giving up three runs on six hits and 88 pitches in 2 2/3 innings. It was Snell's fifth early exit (before finishing four innings) this season. The only pitcher in the Major Leagues with more is ex-Ray James Shields, who has six. The only Rays starters with more were Edwin Jackson in 2007 (seven) and Bobby Witt and Dave Eiland, who each had six in 1999. More >
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Sanchez's fourth-inning pickoff of Corey Dickerson merited a closer look, as the Yankees' rookie threw from his knees to nail Dickerson wandering too far from second base, ending the inning. Statcast™ measured Sanchez's arm strength at 84.1 mph, with an exchange of 0.5 seconds and a pop time of 1.83 seconds.
"There's a plan between us," Sanchez said through an interpreter. "If they see [on the bench] that the runner's taking a big lead, there's a sign. They'll let me know, and I'll make the throw."
Rays left-hander Justin Marks walked five in three hitless innings of relief. The last person to have that line in a Major League game was Pat Zachry of the Dodgers in 1984 against the Reds.
The Rays successfully challenged a call at first base in the fifth inning after Longoria was initially ruled out on the back end of a 4-6-3 double play. A review of 37 seconds overturned the call, showing that Longoria beat Didi Gregorius' throw to Teixeira.
WHAT'S NEXT Rays: Right-hander Chris Archer (8-17, 4.06 ERA), who has a 2.10 ERA over his past four starts, takes the mound for the Rays in a 4:05 p.m. ET Saturday start at Yankee Stadium. Archer hasn't beaten the Yankees in six tries since Sept. 9, 2014.
Yankees: Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka (12-4, 3.11 ERA) draws the call on Saturday and enters on a roll, having gone 5-0 with a 2.08 ERA over his past six starts dating back to Aug. 7. That includes an Aug. 13 start vs. Tampa Bay, in which he picked up the win, permitting four runs in seven innings while walking none and striking out eight.