ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Saturday night's unexpected pitcher was Sunday's unexpected hero.
Rookie infielder Dean Anna, who pitched in garbage time during a blowout loss Saturday, worked a bases-loaded walk in the 12th inning Sunday to help the Yankees earn a split of their four-game series against the Rays with a 5-1 victory in front of 26,462 at Tropicana Field.
The Yankees (11-8) are off Monday before starting a three-game series against the Red Sox on Tuesday night at Fenway Park.
"Baseball's all about moments and it was a fun moment," said Anna, put in that position because of an intentional walk to Jacoby Ellsbury that loaded the bases. "Pitching and that, it's been a fun time in Tampa. I'm happy to go on to Boston."
Anna, batting in Derek Jeter's spot in the order (Joe Girardi pinch ran for Jeter with Ichiro Suzuki in the 11th), barely checked his swing on lefty C.J. Riefenhauser's two-out, full-count pitch with the bases loaded, the walk snapping a 1-1 tie.
"I was 100-percent positive," Anna said of successfully checking his swing, though Rays manager Joe Maddon disagreed and came out to chirp at third-base umpire Marty Foster.
The play opened the floodgates for the Yankees, who got a two-run single from Carlos Beltran and an RBI single from Alfonso Soriano, both against righty Josh Lueke, to make it 5-1.
Preston Claiborne, called up late Saturday night and arriving in town Sunday morning, earned the victory by pitching scoreless 11th and 12th innings.
"Quite an adrenaline pump," said Claiborne, who had a lousy spring training but pitched well after starting the season in Scranton.
It was an overall crazy afternoon, a fitting end to a bizarre series that started Thursday with a Yankees victory that included a triple play, followed by consecutive games in which they were outscored 27-6.
Righthander Vidal Nuño, making a spot start because of Wednesday's doubleheader against the Cubs, made a strong bid to take over Ivan Nova's spot in the rotation, pitching five scoreless innings. Nova was sent to the disabled list Sunday because of a torn ligament in his right elbow.
"Everything was working," said Nuño, who started the year in the bullpen after competing for the No. 5 starter job that went to Michael Pineda. "Every day's an opportunity to show that I belong here and can get people out."
Nuño, 26, on a pitch count of 75, threw 69 and allowed three hits and two walks, striking out six.
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead into the seventh, courtesy of Brett Gardner's RBI double off the wall in the fourth, a play originally ruled an out but overturned via replay, not the first time MLB's new toy would play a role in the game.
Ichiro originally was called safe on a steal attempt in the 11th, a call reversed on replay.
David Phelps, who took over for Nuño in the sixth, started the seventh and struck out Wil Myers looking. Girardi called on lefty Matt Thornton to face the lefthanded-hitting James Loney, who dumped a single to left. Brandon Guyer came next and hit a sharp grounder to rookie third baseman Yangervis Solarte, who threw to second baseman Brian Roberts. Roberts appeared to catch the ball and lose it transferring it to his right hand, which in past years would be called an out at second.
However, under a new interpretation this season of what constitutes a catch, second- base umpire Joe West called Loney safe. Adam Warren came in and allowed a single by Yunel Escobar to load the bases. Pinch hitter Matt Joyce's sacrifice fly to medium right brought in Loney to tie it at 1-1.
"That was an interesting game," said Mark Teixeira, who went 2-for-6 in his first game back from the DL. "I still don't understand some of those calls today. But hey, we got the win, that's all that matters."