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Wells' three-run double carries Yankees
NEW YORK -- After taking a first-pitch fastball for a strike, Vernon Wells looked at the speed reading on the scoreboard and realized that he had seen the pitch better than he had seen pitches recently.
That gave him optimism and he was ready for another one.
Wells got four more fastballs and, on the fifth pitch in the high 90s, the slumping outfielder hit a bases-clearing pinch double with two out in the bottom of the seventh inning, lifting the New York Yankees to a 7-5 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.
"I took the first pitch to see what it was like," Wells said. "I saw it really well and it said 96, 'OK, that's a good feeling.' It's not a good feeling when you go up there and they throw a ball and all of a sudden it's in the glove and you don't see it.
"After that point it's, 'Let's get a good point on the ball, try not to do much and let him provide the power."
Jake McGee provided the power with a fastball that ran over the middle of the plate and Wells made manager Joe Girardi's decision to bat him for catcher Chris Stewart pay off by hitting a ball to the gap in right-center field that bounced in and out of a fan's glove as he slightly leaned over the railing.
"Really frustrating, especially when you're so close to getting out of that inning. I was trying to go up and away," McGee said. "He swung through a pitch away earlier in the at-bat. I figured if I go make him beat me up (and) away, I don't want to miss with a pitch middle in."
Often this type of hit is ruled a ground-rule double, which was Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon's contention when he discussed the play with third base umpire Greg Gibson. Gibson, however, ruled fan interference and allowed the third run to score.
Wells came into the at-bat against McGee hitless in his previous 11 at-bats and had only nine hits in his previous 87 at-bats, dropping his batting average to .221. That led Girardi to start rookie Zoilo Almonte in left field the last two games but also allowed Wells to work on some things with hitting coach Kevin Long.
"Kevin and I worked on a couple of things today," Wells said. "He threw really hard to me. So it kind of tuned me up a little bit."
"Through his struggles, I still thought his at-bats off of left-handed pitching have been pretty good," Girardi said. "That's why I ran him out there against McGee."
After getting the deciding hit, teammates celebrated with Wells in the dugout, including Almonte, who jokingly told Wells that he would have hit a home run.
"I try to find the positives in everything," Wells said. "It was good to hit a ball and not land in somebody's glove, so that came at a great time."
The Yankees rallied from a 5-3 deficit by getting to Joel Peralta (1-4). Peralta issued a bases-loaded walk to David Adams, making it a one-run game and McGee struck out Jayson Nix before Wells got his first extra-base hit since May 31.
"The walks really kicked our butt today," Maddon said. "Joel seeing up for that part of the batting order was perfect and then of course, Jake and then I was going to go to Fernando (Rodney). We just walked way too many guys."
CC Sabathia (8-5) allowed a solo home run to Evan Longoria and a grand slam to rookie Wil Myers among six hits in seven innings.
"It's awesome to get a lift from him," Sabathia said. "It's a big hit and hopefully he'll build on it and keep going."
After allowing Myers' first career home run, Sabathia finished his fourth victory in five starts by throwing 11 pitches to the final four hitters and getting a key double play grounder by Jose Lobaton in the seventh.
David Robertson struck out two in the eighth, and in the ninth Mariano Rivera allowed an infield hit before working around a two-out throwing error by Nix at shortstop for his 26th save.
Almonte drove in three runs for the Yankees with a two-run single in the third and a bases-loaded walk in the fifth against Tampa Bay starter Alex Colome.
Colome lasted 4 1/3 innings in his second career start, allowing three unearned runs and five hits while issuing five walks.
NOTES: New York SS Derek Jeter took a break from rehabbing his broken left ankle in Tampa, Fla., by taking batting practice at Yankee Stadium. His rehab has consisted of doing everything except running outside. ... 3B Alex Rodriguez had five at-bats in a simulated game Friday. He had a hit and two walks. ... New York C Francisco Cervelli started taking swings and will progress to tee and toss work. ... To make room on the roster for Colome, Tampa Bay optioned RHP Josh Lueke to Class AAA Durham. ... Longoria was intentionally walked for only the second time all season.