ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Some bounce-back by the rookie -- on a night the Yankees certainly needed it.
Five days after the worst outing of his brief career, Luis Severino turned in a solid, at times spectacular outing in the Yankees' 3-1 victory over the Rays last night at Tropicana Field.
Severino, who allowed six runs in 21/3 innings Friday in an 11-5 loss to the Blue Jays, allowed a run and six hits in 52/3 against the Rays. The 21-year-old walked one, struck out seven and lowered his ERA from 3.35 to 3.12.
He said the difference was "command. This time I commanded my fastball. I had a rough outing last time and I wanted to get better.''
Rookie first baseman Greg Bird went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and his seventh homer, a monstrous solo shot to rightfield in the ninth that made it 3-1. The ball bounced off the seldom-hit "D" ring overhanging the field.
The Yankees (80-65) managed only six hits but beat Rays ace Chris Archer for the second time in 11 days. They stayed three games behind the Blue Jays in the AL East. They start a Subway Series with the Mets Friday night at Citi Field.
"I thought [the win] was really important,'' Joe Girardi said, "And we're facing a guy who's pitched great against us. I give our guys a lot of credit.''
Justin Wilson pitched a scoreless inning in relief of Severino (4-3), giving way to Dellin Betances with two outs in the seventh. The righthander walked the bases loaded to bring up James Loney, who had three hits in the game and was 4-for-7 in his career against Betances. Loney struck out on three pitches.
After a scoreless eighth by Betances, Andrew Miller struck out the side in the ninth for his 34th save in 35 chances.
Jacoby Ellsbury snapped an 0-for-25 slide with a leadoff single in the first and singled again in the fifth, improving to 16-for-22 against Archer.
The Yankees got to Archer in a 28-pitch second. Bird ripped a double to the gap in right-center that brought Carlos Beltran around from first to make it 1-0. Chase Headley's groundout to the right side moved Bird to third, but Archer kept him there, getting Didi Gregorius to ground sharply to first and Dustin Ackley to fly to center.
Severino escaped a jam in the second. Loney led off with a double off the wall in left and Steven Souza Jr. walked. Severino struck out Nick Franklin swinging, got Kevin Kiermaier looking and retired Rene Rivera on a bouncer as second baseman Ackley made a nice stop.
After the walk to Souza, Severino retired 10 of the next 11, striking out five.
The Rays threatened again in the fifth, when Rivera singled and John Jaso doubled to left-center. Severino pitched out of it, getting Mike Mahtook on a comebacker and Evan Longoria to foul to catcher Brian McCann.
The Yankees made it 2-0 in the sixth against a tiring Archer. He walked McCann with one out and, after retiring Beltran, walked Bird. Headley dumped a single to left to drive in McCann.
The Rays finally scored in the sixth. Loney singled and scored when Souza crushed a double to left-center. Umpires reviewed the play because it looked as if the ball might have hit one of the overhanging rings, making it a home run, but there was not conclusive evidence.
Severino struck out Franklin for the second out, and Wilson struck out Kiermaier.