ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - For the second straight night, the Yankees scored twice against an ineffectual Rays starter in the first inning.
And for the second straight night, their bats went mostly quiet thereafter, leading to another loss, this one a 3-2 setback in front of 11,924 Wednesday night at Tropicana Field.
The dead wood helped waste a solid start by Adam Warren, who himself struggled early but went a career-best seven innings, allowing three runs and seven hits.
Warren (2-2) allowed those runs in the first two innings, turning a 2-0 lead into a 3-2 deficit. He walked one and struck out seven.
Rays starter Nathan Karns, after a 29-pitch first inning in which the Yankees (21-14) scored those runs, lasted only five innings, but he allowed nothing more and seven hits overall.
Four Rays relievers shut out the Yankees the rest of the way, the last of which, righthander Brad Boxberger, picked up his 10th save with a perfect ninth.
Boxberger struck out the last two batters he faced, Brett Gardner and Alex Rodriguez.
The Bombers had opportunities, putting runners on in seven innings, but they stranded 10.
Karns (3-1) opened the game with nine straight balls, walking Jacoby Ellsbury and Gardner in the process. After Rodriguez flew out to short center, Mark Teixeira slapped a 1-and-0 slider to right for a single that brought in Ellsbury and gave him a team-best 28 RBIs. Brian McCann then lined a 2-and-2 fastball, also to right, for a single that made it 2-0.
That would be all, however, as Carlos Beltran struck out and Stephen Drew, who continues to struggle at the plate, flew out.
Steven Souza, the Rays' rookie rightfielder, cut into that lead with one out in the bottom half, launching a first-pitch, 92-mph fastball to left for his team-best sixth homer that made it 2-1.
After the Yankees squandered a first-and-third, one-out situation in the second, the Rays took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning.
Logan Forsythe led off with a double, driving a 1-and-0 fastball into the gap in left-center. After David DeJesus flew out, Asdrubal Cabrera collected his 1,000th hit with an RBI double to center to make it 2-2. Joey Butler then sliced a bloop single to right that brought in Cabrera to make it 3-2.
Warren settled in after that, pitching five scoreless innings. Andrew Miller took over in the eighth and pitched one of the most dominant innings any Yankee has had this season, striking out the side on 10 pitches.
The Yankees nearly tied it in the fifth. Teixeira reached on a two-out single and McCann beat the shift with a soft grounder to a wide-open left side of the infield. Beltran followed with a single to center, where Kevin Kiermaier charged and came up throwing. Teixeira steamed around third but lost speed as he got to the plate and Kiermaier's throw was a good one to catcher Bobby Wilson, who tagged Teixeira out.
Joe Girardi challenged, saying Wilson illegally blocked the plate, not giving Teixeira a lane in which to slide, but the call was confirmed, keeping the Yankees off the board.