The Rays try to prevent the visiting Yankees from matching a season high with their sixth consecutive victory Friday night.
Though Rodriguez won't answer any non-baseball related questions, each city New York (68-59) visits of late naturally brings with it the distraction surrounding the embattled third baseman.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon won't feed the fire or tell his pitchers to intentionally throw at Rodriguez like Boston's Ryan Dempster did Sunday.
"Vigilante justice and unilateral decisions, I'm not into that stuff," Maddon told the Rays' official website. "That is totally separate from the unwritten rules of baseball."
Especially considering the Yankees have averaged 5.4 runs and hit 21 homers while batting .290 in 17 games since Rodriguez made his 2013 debut. Curtis Granderson homered and Andy Pettitte threw six strong innings Thursday as New York won for the 11th time in 14 games, 5-3 to sweep four from Toronto.
"We're feeling good about ourselves, and you knew this was going to happen," Pettitte said. "It was just a matter of when, and you hope it's not too late."
The Yankees are 3 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot in the AL. The Rays (72-53) lead that race and trail first-place Boston by a game in the East. Tampa Bay leads 7-6 in the season series with New York, with each team winning three times at Tropicana Field.
Tampa Bay has won six of eight overall and 18 of 23 at home, but it faces a stiff challenge against New York starter Hiroki Kuroda (11-8, 2.41 ERA).
The right-hander has the lowest ERA in the AL, but he allowed five runs - three earned - and a career-high 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings of a 6-1 loss at Boston on Saturday. The five runs matched the total he yielded while going 4-1 in his previous seven starts.
Kuroda went 2-1 against the Rays last season despite posting a 6.11 ERA.
New York hopes the streaky Alfonso Soriano can break out of his 1-for-19 slump that followed a five-game stretch where he went 15 for 22 with five homers and 18 RBIs.
The Yankees also must try to solve Rays starter Chris Archer (6-5, 2.95), who has given up one run in 15 innings to win both 2013 starts against them. He tossed a two-hitter and won 1-0 in the Bronx on July 27.
"Regardless of the venue or team, I'm trying to go out there and accomplish the same goal every day: Be mindful of every pitch (and keep) my team in the game as long as I possibly can," the right-hander said.
Since that dominant performance, Archer is 0-2 with a 4.79 ERA in four starts. He yielded a run and four hits in seven innings of a 2-1, 10-inning win over Toronto on Sunday.
Tampa Bay rookie Wil Myers is 11 for 31 (.355) with three homers and nine RBIs in seven games against New York this season.
DeJesus was acquired by the Nationals on Monday from the Chicago Cubs and played in three road games with Washington this week. In 87 games overall this season, he is batting .247 with six home runs and 27 RBIs.
Young was released by Philadelphia last week. The former No. 1 overall pick of the Rays hit .293 with 16 homers and 103 RBIs in 192 games for them in 2006-07.
|New York Yankees|
|August 22, 2013||Jayson Nix||15-Day DL||Fractured left hand|
|August 21, 2013||Jayson Nix||Day-to-Day||Broken left hand|
|August 03, 2013||Derek Jeter||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
|August 03, 2013||Derek Jeter||Day-to-Day||Calf|
|July 27, 2013||Travis Hafner||15-Day DL||Strained right rotator cuff|
|July 23, 2013||Luis Cruz||15-Day DL||Sprained right knee|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|August 15, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Lower back spasms|
|August 04, 2013||Desmond Jennings||15-Day DL||Fractured left middle finger|
|August 04, 2013||Desmond Jennings||15-Day DL||Fractured left middle finger|
|August 02, 2013||Brandon Guyer||15-Day DL||Fractured right middle finger|
|July 29, 2013||Matt Moore||15-Day DL||Left elbow soreness|
|June 30, 2013||Jesse Crain||60-Day DL||Sprained right shoulder|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Chris Archer is young, confident and also unbeaten against the Yankees. Just don't suggest the Tampa Bay rookie pitcher might have New York's number.
"Don't want to go there," manager Joe Maddon said Friday night after the Rays topped their AL East rivals 7-2, with Archer winning three times with a 1.23 ERA in three starts against the Yankees.
"We're not going to canonize the guy. We'll just let him keep pitching," Maddon added. "He's doing a great job. He's a young man and he's very focused; I want to keep him on this path. He looks good."
Jose Lobaton homered and drove in four runs in support of Archer (7-5), a 24-year-old right-hander who won twice earlier this season at Yankee Stadium, including a two-hit shutout on July 27. He gave up four hits over seven innings this time.
Evan Longoria , Matt Joyce and Ben Zobrist also went deep for Tampa Bay, hitting solo shots off Hiroki Kuroda (11-9), who tied a career high for homers allowed - the first given up by the Yankees starter in nearly two months.
The loss stopped a five-game winning streak for New York, which had won 10 of 12 to climb back into the AL playoff race.
"It's one game," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We've just come off playing extremely well. You have to turn the page and go win tomorrow."
Archer, who also won in New York on June 23, yielded a run-scoring single to Alfonso Soriano in the first inning and Brett Gardner 's triple and Robinson Cano 's RBI grounder in the sixth. In three starts against the Yankees, he's allowed three runs, 12 hits and struck out 14 in 22 innings.
"The defense was incredible. We made play after play, so I was just getting more comfortable out there. ... I really didn't feel like I could fail," Archer said.
Alex Rodriguez , playing while appealing his 211-game suspension, was booed every time he came to the plate and went 0 for 4 with a strikeout for the Yankees. Eduardo Nunez had two of New York's four hits off Archer, including an infield single.
Archer walked two, hit a batter and struck out four to win for the first time since beating the Yankees 1-0 last month. Over his next four starts, he went 0-2 with a 4.79 ERA.
Before the game, the Rays honored Mariano Rivera , who's making his last regular-season visit to Tropicana Field, by unveiling a sand sculpture of the Yankees closer near the main entrance of the domed stadium. The team also presented him with check for $3,150 for the Mariano Rivera Foundation - $50 for each save he's earned against Tampa Bay during his career.
Meanwhile, newly acquired outfielder David DeJesus made his debut for the Rays, going 1 for 3, scoring a run and making a nice running catch up against the wall in left field. Tampa Bay obtained him from Washington earlier in the day for a player to be named or cash.
"That's why we picked him up," Archer said. "He's a great defensive player and a clutch hitter."
Lobaton's three-run, second-inning homer off the right field foul pole was the first off Kuroda since June 30, when the 38-year-old right-hander gave up three in a loss at Baltimore. Longoria and Joyce homered in the third for a 5-1 lead. Lobaton added a RBI single in the fourth and Zobrist homered in the fifth to make it 7-1.
"When you get in a hole like that, it's tough to get back out of it, especially when somebody is throwing the ball as well as Archer," Gardner said. "It just wasn't our day."
Kuroda allowed a season-high seven runs over six innings. He also matched a season high by yielding nine hits.
"It was really strange," Girardi said. "He just didn't have his stuff tonight."
NOTES: Girardi said SS Derek Jeter (strained right calf) will continue his rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre through at least Saturday. ... With rookie RF Wil Myers getting a night off, Matt Joyce moved to right field and DeJesus was inserted into Tampa Bay's lineup in left field. To make room on the roster for the 33-year-old DeJesus, the Rays designated OF Jason Bourgeois for assignment. ... New York 1B Lyle Overbay was out of the lineup due to flulike symptoms.