Tampa Bay suffers season-high eighth straight loss

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (ESPN.com news services) -- Get ready for the new-look Yankees.

Hideki Matsui is moving to center field for an ailing Bernie Williams. Tony Womack is headed to left, and Robinson Cano is coming up from the minors to play second base every day. Plus, Randy Johnson could wind up on the disabled list because of a stiff groin, putting another young pitcher in the rotation.

"We're looking to get this thing on track. We just feel there are certain things we need to start doing," general manager Brian Cashman said after Monday night's 6-2 victory over Tampa Bay improved New York's record to 11-15.

With his $200 million collection of talent struggling below .500 this late in a season for the first time in more than a decade, Cashman felt compelled to do something. He called owner George Steinbrenner on Sunday and said he wanted to travel to Tampa to join the team.

"The way we're playing, I don't want to be too far away," Cashman said.

He and manager Joe Torre began a major overhaul by announcing a series of moves that will change the look of the lineup, as well as the rotation.

"We felt we needed a little energy," Torre said.

For starters, Johnson will miss his scheduled start against the Devil Rays on Wednesday night because of stiffness in his left groin, an injury that Cashman said could land the Big Unit on the DL. Sean Henn will be called up from Double-A Trenton to fill in. Reliever Steve Karsay, who has appeared in just 13 games in the last three seasons because of a torn rotator cuff and was made expendable with reliever Tanyon Sturtze expected to be activated from the disabled list Thursday, was designated for assignment Monday.

"This wasn't a surprise," Karsay said. "Unfortunately, I was the odd man out."

In addition, the Yankees plan to bring up Cano from the minors. He was hitting .333 at Triple-A Columbus with four homers and 24 RBI. Matsui will move from left to center in place of Williams, who has been bothered by tendinitis in his right elbow, and Womack will shift to left.

"I'm not going to make a big deal out of it," Womack said. "I've played the outfield before, so it's not really new."

Williams, who had an RBI on Monday night, will be used primarily as a designated hitter until his health improves. He is expected to split time at DH with Jason Giambi and Ruben Sierra, who is on the disabled list.

"We're going to try things. We're looking to find a way to get this thing going in the right direction," Cashman reiterated. "This is a game plan Joe and I talked about [Sunday] and are implementing today."

Mike Mussina pitched seven solid innings and Gary Sheffield went 3-for-4 with an RBI in Monday night's victory, which extended Tampa Bay's losing streak to a season-high eight games.

Rey Sanchez had a two-run single and Jorge Posada also drove in a run for New York, which lost six of nine games at Yankee Stadium during a homestand that concluded Sunday with an ugly 8-6 loss to Toronto.

Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella was incensed by his team's shoddy defense. Two of the three runs starter Scott Kazmir (0-3) allowed were unearned, and Tampa Bay committed two errors and let a routine fly ball drop for a hit.

"Bad, bad, bad baseball. That's what it was. ... And like I told the players, either they're going to get better or we're going to have them out here every day at 1 o'clock until they do get better. It's their choice," Piniella said.

Mussina (2-2) allowed five hits, including Alex Sanchez's
two-run homer, in his 213th career victory. He struck out two and walked two before being replaced by Tom Gordon in the eighth. Mariano Rivera struck out all three batters in the ninth.

Sheffield had an RBI double in the fifth off Kazmir, who allowed eight hits in six innings. The Yankees scored three in the eighth off reliever Travis Harper to put the game away.

Not every New York player had a good night. Andy Phillips struck out all five times he went to the plate, tying a major-league record set 43 times previously.

Tampa Bay's slide, which includes an 0-6 road swing, matches the second-longest in the majors this year. Colorado lost eight straight during a stretch last month, and Kansas City had a nine-game skid.

Kazmir equaled a career high with nine strikeouts and kept the Devil Rays in the game by escaping a jam in the third when he got Alex Rodriguez to ground out with the bases loaded. The Yankees stranded two more runners in the fourth, but not before Williams' two-out single drove in Posada for a 1-0 lead.

A lack of timely hitting has cost the Devil Rays throughout their losing streak, the club's second-longest under Piniella, who returned from a three-game suspension for his role in two bench-clearing scuffles with the Boston Red Sox.

The team is 1-for-13 with the bases loaded this season after failing in that situation again when Jorge Cantu flied to center after Mussina gave up a single and two walks to fill the bases with two outs in the fourth.

The Yankees pulled away in the eighth, scoring on Harper's throwing error and a two-run single by Rey Sanchez.

Game notes
Yankees first baseman Tino Martinez had flu-like symptoms. He was replaced by Phillips. ... Devil Rays first baseman Travis Lee was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right groin. The team replaced him by purchasing outfielder Damon Hollins' contract from Triple-A Durham.

Information from The Associated Press and SportsTicker was used in this report.