For the Yankees, that's 'Mo' like it
NEW YORK - A day after one of his worst relief outings, Mariano Rivera was right where he wanted to be: back on the mound.
Unlike Saturday, when his manager ordered him to walk Evan Longoria, Rivera got his chance to face Tampa Bay's slugger, this time with two outs in the ninth inning and a one-run lead to protect.
And the outcome was more familiar. Rivera got Longoria to ground meekly to second, closing out the New York Yankees' 4-3 victory over the Rays yesterday for his 495th career save.
"I guess Mo was right," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Nick Swisher hit the 100th home run at the new Yankee Stadium, helping Girardi earn his 200th win as a manager. Alfredo Aceves (4-1) pitched two scoreless innings in New York's major league-leading 20th comeback victory this season. The Yankees, who lead the AL East by a half-game over the Red Sox, finish their series with the Rays tonight before coming to Fenway Park for a three-game set.
Hideki Matsui beat out a potential double-play grounder to drive in the go-ahead run during a three-run eighth, setting the stage for Rivera's 13th save.
Rivera was upset after being forced to intentionally walk an ailing Longoria to face B.J. Upton in the Rays' four-run ninth Saturday, which produced a 9-7 win. Yesterday, however, he said he didn't second-guess his manager and had forgotten the outing before the game.
"You can't come to a game angry or with too much venom. Then you are not in control of what you are doing," Rivera said. "I have to control myself before I can go out and pitch. Yesterday is over. What can I do?"
With the Yankees trailing, 3-1, with one out in the eighth, Johnny Damon lined a single off Grant Balfour (2-1), and Mark Teixeira followed with a single to put runners at the corners. Alex Rodriguez walked to load the bases.
J.P. Howell relieved and walked Robinson Cano, making it 3-2. Jorge Posada then hit a bouncer to third that Willy Aybar, subbing for Longoria (hamstring), couldn't handle. Teixeira scored the tying run, Posada was given an RBI, and Aybar was charged with an error.
"They're like us, they do play all nine," said Howell, who walked two while getting just two outs. "They're ready to take advantage because you're going to get a break and they're ready to pounce when they get one."
Matsui then chopped a soft grounder to second and beat the throw to first, preventing an inning-ending double play and giving New York a 4-3 lead.
"When I hit the ball, it was hit pretty weakly. I had a feeling it wouldn't be a double play," said Matsui, who has struggled with leg injuries this season.
Swisher's 11th homer, in the third, made it 28 games in a row with a homer to open the ballpark, extending a record. There were 160 homers last season at the old Yankee Stadium.
Upton had an RBI double in the third and Gabe Gross hit a two-run single in the sixth to give Tampa Bay a 3-1 lead and finish off starter Joba Chamberlain.
The Rays, who had been 3-0 in New York this season, had their season-best four-game winning streak snapped.