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St. Petersburg, Fla. — CC Sabathia felt he spent too much time focusing on his delivery than making pitches.
He paid for it.
Ryan Roberts and Yunel Escobar each homered off Sabathia in a four-run first inning Monday night, and Roberts added another longball in the third as the Rays broke the Yankees ace’s three-start winning streak with a 5-2 victory over New York.
Sabathia (3-2) has given up three or more home runs in only nine of his 388 career starts.
“I was trying to be more fluid with my delivery, and I think that took some of my aggressiveness away,” Sabathia said. “I just have to be more aggressive, let the ball go and not think so much. I’m usually aggressive. It’s just one of those things tonight where I don’t know what I was thinking. I felt like I had better stuff than I’ve had, but it was a bad day.”
Matt Moore (4-0) gave up one run, two hits, three walks and had nine strikeouts over eight innings, becoming the first Rays pitcher to win his first four starts of a season.
The left-hander gave up five runs and seven hits over seven innings and fell to 10-10 in 30 career starts against the Rays. He is 3-6 lifetime at Tropicana Field.
“You wouldn’t necessarily think that any team would give CC a lot of trouble because he’s been such a good pitcher, but they seem to give him more trouble here than at our place, and I’m not really sure why,” said Yankee manager Joe Girardi.
Said Sabathia: “It’s a different lineup every time. It’s just one of those things where I haven’t pitched very good against them.”
Tampa Bay has won 12 of its last 14 home games against the Yankees, going back to July of 2011.
Roberts led off the third with his second home run for a 5-0 lead.
Sabathia had given up just one homer over 28 innings in his four previous starts this season.
Robinson Cano cut the deficit to 5-1 on a home run in the fourth inning, which was New York’s first hit. By then Sabathia had settled in, but it was too late against Moore.
“You’re not going to dominate every inning, but when you give up runs early, it’s a matter of just keeping your team there, and (Sabathia) did that. We just weren’t able to do anything against Moore tonight,” said Vernon Wells, who struck out three times and spiked himself while making a sliding catch in the third inning.
Yankees infielder Kevin Youkilis, who left Saturday’s game at Toronto with lower back stiffness, was a late scratch Monday after the back tightened up following batting practice.
The second game of the series Tuesday night has AL CY Young Award winner David Price (0-1) facing New York’s Phil Hughes (0-2). The Rays have lost Price’s four starts this season, which is the fifth time, and first since Ton Glavine in 1999, that a reigning Cy Young Award winner’s team has lost his first four starts.
• Star NFL cornerback Darrelle Revis, acquired by the Tampa Bay Buccanners on Sunday from the New York Jets, threw the ceremonial first pitch. He received a big ovation from the crowd. ... Yankees OF Curtis Granderson (broken right forearm) hit off a tee and soft toss throws for the first time at the team's complex in nearby Tampa. ... Sabathia has been scored upon in the first inning in two consecutive starts after a stretch of 13 starts where he kept the opponent scoreless in the opening inning.