NEW YORK - There was a warm pregame ceremony honoring the newly retired Hideki Matsui and a curtain call honoring the returning Derek Jeter, all of this before Matt Moore faced his third batter of the afternoon.
“There was a lot of emotion going on in Yankee Stadium,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “We always seem to show up at that point.”
Wil Myers showed up Sunday with his first two-home run game to add to the impressive start to his career.
But Moore struggled for the first time in a long time and Alfonso Soriano, the newest Yankee, drove home the winning run as New York walked off with a 6-5 victory in front of only the third sellout crowd in the Bronx this season.
The loss, just the Rays' sixth in the past 30 games, knocked them out of first place. They trail Boston by a half game entering tonight's makeup game against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.
“It's been a little different,” Moore said of the postgame mood in the clubhouse. “We've been playing very well all around. We're trying to get to Boston and put the ball in David's (Price's) hand for (tonight) and pick up where we were (Saturday).”
Saturday was another sterling performance by a Rays starting pitcher, a 1-0 shutout by Chris Archer that kept the Rays in first place for another day.
Moore, who took a six-game winning streak into Sunday, turned in his worst performance since his loss to the Royals on June 14. He allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings vs. the Yankees.
It was Moore's shortest outing since he allowed eight runs on 12 hits in five innings June 9 during a loss to Baltimore.
The three runs Moore allowed in the first inning matched the most he allowed in his first four starts this month. Those runs came against the Twins, and the final two runs charged to Moore that day scored with Alex Torres on the mound.
“Not quite as sharp,” Moore said. “Especially in that first inning.”
Jeter, returning from the disabled list, smacked a homer to right field on the first pitch of his first at-bat, and Moore allowed two additional runs during a 30-pitch first inning.
Yet the Rays rallied. A three-run homer by Myers into the left-field bleachers in the third gave them a 4-3 lead.
Moore, though, gave it back when he allowed a two-run homer to Soriano on a fly ball to right field that sailed over the glove of Myers, who mistimed his jump at the wall.
“A Yankee Stadium home run,” Maddon said.
Moore gave the Rays two more innings but was finished after throwing 91 pitches through five.
“My pitch count was never in check,” Moore said. “Still felt fine in those moments when things were about to happen. That home run to
Jeter was the perfect pitch that I know he likes to hit. It was a battle (Sunday). It was the whole game.”
Jeter's homer was well hit, and he answered the ovation with a calling card.
But the other two runs that inning were set up by an infield grounder off Moore's glove and another that hit Yunel Escobar's foot as Escobar tried to chase it down behind second base.
Jeter was on base in the third inning for Soriano after having reached on a soft liner that skipped off the glove of second baseman Kelly Johnson.
“It was some awkward moments, the ball off of (Moore's) glove, ball off of Yunel's foot, ball off of Kelly's glove,” Maddon said. “There were all kinds of off-ofs (Sunday) and it was just unfortunate, it was. Those are things we normally make or do and we did not, and it led to a couple of their runs.”
Myers tied the score at 5 in the fifth with his second homer of the game. He became the first opposing rookie to homer twice at Yankee Stadium since former Ray Reid Brignac on July 17, 2010.
The Yankees bullpen allowed the Rays one hit in the final four innings.
It was just the second loss for the Rays in the first nine games of this 10-game trip.
“It (stinks), especially on a walk-off loss,” Jake McGee said. “That's always a little harder. But we're a strong team. We'll be back ready to go (tonight) with our heads up. Amnesia is a good thing to have.”