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Yankees lose first home series since April 2019

Gerrit Cole snarled as he paced on the infield grass, pounding into the pocket of his glove and marching to the top of the mound. Spotting Yankees manager Aaron Boone ambling onto the playing field, he spat an expletive. The ace right-hander did not want to surrender the baseball.

On a night when Cole had to compete without his sharpest stuff, his intensity was on full display. Cole extended his career-long unbeaten streak to 28 starts, but the Rays rallied for two runs in the eighth inning, handing the Yankees a 4-2 loss on Wednesday at Yankee Stadium and their first series defeat in the Bronx since April 12-14, 2019, against the White Sox (27 series).

Tampa Bay defeated the Yanks for the fifth time in six games, moving ahead after a Zack Britton error, wild pitch and walk set the stage. Third baseman Gio Urshela cut down the lead run on a fielder’s choice, but Mike Brosseau and Willy Adames stroked RBI singles to push the Rays ahead.

Cole struck out 10 over 6 2/3 innings, dinged for solo home runs by Ji-Man Choi and Mike Zunino. He had thrown 99 pitches through six innings but lobbied to remain in the game. Boone acquiesced, permitting Cole to face the bottom of Tampa Bay’s lineup.

A sharp play by Urshela gave Cole the first out, whirling in the shortstop position to flag a Kevin Kiermaier grounder. Manuel Margot reached on a bunt single, then Cole painted the black with a 98 mph fastball to freeze Zunino, reaching double digits in strikeouts for the second time as a Yankee.