Gardner's bat, Judge's glove lead win vs. Rays

Gardner's bat, Judge's glove lead win vs. Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Brett Gardner hit a two-run homer and Aaron Judge preserved the lead with a sensational diving catch as the Yankees withstood Chris Archer's season-high 12 strikeouts, snapping their three-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Rays on Sunday at Tropicana Field.

Gardner's second-inning blast was his eighth homer in the past 20 games, exceeding his total for all of 2016. Didi Gregorius had four hits, including a run-scoring single off Archer, who permitted six hits and two walks over 6 1/3 innings while accepting his second straight loss.

Cast your Esurance All-Star ballot for Gardner, Judge and other #ASGWorthy players

Gregorius' four-hit performance

"He's got dominant stuff. He's an ace," Gardner said of Archer. "He obviously had the loss today, and that's just because of the play that Judge made and the way [the Yankees] pitched. I don't know how many strikeouts he had -- 14, 16, 20, it seemed like -- but we got the win, which is all that matters."

Yankees starter CC Sabathia was charged with two runs (one earned) over five-plus innings. A Gary Sanchez throwing error allowed Corey Dickerson to race home with Tampa Bay's first run, and Derek Norris homered off the veteran in the fifth, snapping a string of 12 straight retired by Sabathia.

Catching on: Norris keeps up backstops' trend

Norris' solo homer

"It feels good. Obviously, you're pitching against Archer, so it's going to be tough," Sabathia said. "I'm just trying to get the boys back in the dugout as quick as possible to try and get some more runs."

Playing behind Chad Green, Judge preserved the lead with a full-extension grab in the sixth, stealing an extra-base hit from Evan Longoria and doubling Dickerson off of first base.

Must C: Judge's diving catch

"Anything I can do to help out the team," Judge said. "CC is out there doing well, and they brought in Greenie. Against a good hitter like Longoria, anything I can do on defense to help them out, you have to do it."

Dellin Betances recorded the final four outs to earn his second save since taking over as the Yanks' closer in place of the injured Aroldis Chapman.

Betances' four-out save

MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Bringing the heat: Archer offered a preview of his afternoon in the first inning when shortstop Tim Beckham threw away a potential Sanchez double-play ball, giving the Yankees runners at second and third with none out. Archer struck out Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro and Judge to keep New York off the scoreboard, becoming the first pitcher to strike out 10 Yankees in the first four innings of a game since Randy Johnson on July 1, 1994.

Archer K's Judge, side in 1st

"There was maybe two or three pitches that I didn't execute exactly how I wanted to, and they capitalized," Archer said. "That's what good baseball players do."

Defense doesn't rest: Judge turned in the Yankees' eighth four-star catch of the year in the sixth inning, racing into the right-center-field gap to flag Longoria's drive off Green. Dickerson was doubled off of first base on the play, which kept Sabathia in line for the victory and had a catch probability of 26 percent, with Judge needing to cover 79 feet in 4.6 seconds.

Statcast: Judge's four-star grab

"I thought it was going to fall," Longoria said. "It just seemed like the last 10 or 15 feet, he covered a ton of ground, and, I mean, there's not much you can do other than tip your hat. It was a great play and ended up saving the game for them." More >

This one goes to 11: With Kevin Kiermaier at third base and two outs in the seventh, the Rays sent up Logan Morrison to pinch-hit for Daniel Robertson. The Yankees countered by bringing in right-hander Tyler Clippard to face the left-handed batter. An 11-pitch battle followed, with Morrison fouling off three straight 3-2 pitches before finally flying out to end the inning.

"Our lefties have been used recently a couple days in a row, so that's why I did it the way I did it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I told Dellin we're going to need multiple outs today and it's a possibility. He did his job, and so did Clippard and Greenie."

Kiermaier learns what goes up, must come down

QUOTABLE
"I think it's also good that we're a little disappointed after a loss. That's, I guess, how you want to feel. You never want to be satisfied when you lose. Period. It's good that we're hungry and want to keep winning." -- Longoria, on the defeat that snapped a four-game win streak

"I just saw it a couple of seconds ago. How would I grade it? Good catch." -- Judge

SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
• The Nos. 3-5 hitters in New York's lineup (Holliday, Castro, Judge) went a combined 0-for-12 with 11 strikeouts. Castro flied out in the sixth.

• With his first-inning walk, Longoria tied Ben Zobrist for the Rays' franchise record with 542 in his career.

WHAT'S NEXT
Yankees: Right-hander Michael Pineda (4-2, 3.42 ERA) gets the start on Monday as the Yankees open a four-game series at home against the Royals. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. ET at Yankee Stadium. Pineda defeated Kansas City in his last start, permitting four runs (three earned) on six hits over six innings. The Yanks are 6-2 in Pineda's past eight starts.

Rays: Jake Odorizzi will get the nod on Monday when Tampa Bay opens a four-game series at Tropicana Field against the Angels at 7:10 p.m. ET. The right-hander, who enters 3-2 with a 3.16 ERA, has allowed homers in 12 of his past 13 starts -- dating to August 2016 -- and is coming off a victory over Cleveland that saw him yield a season-high-tying seven hits.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Jeff Odom is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg who covered the Rays on Sunday.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.