Sanchez homers, scores four runs in win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- The high-priced New York Yankees
sank to another low against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays -- last place.

"The way we've been playing, we deserve it," captain Derek
Jeter said Thursday night after a 6-2 loss to the team with
baseball's lowest payroll dropped the $200 million Yankees into a
tie for fifth in the AL East.

"You don't win games on paper. You win on the field," Jeter
said. "The bottom line is, it's good to have talent so you can have a
lot of confidence, but you've got to play."

Mark Hendrickson pitched effectively into the eighth inning, and
Alex Sanchez homered and scored four times for the Devil Rays, who
won a series against the Yankees for the first time since September
2002 by taking three of four from the seven-time defending division

Aubrey Huff and Josh Phelps drove in two runs apiece off
Chien-Ming Wang (0-1). The Yankees are eight games behind
first-place Baltimore, their largest deficit of the season.

New York (11-18) has lost seven of its last nine games and four
consecutive series to plunge seven games under .500 for the first
time since July 18, 1995, when it was 33-40. The Yankees share the
AL East cellar with the Devil Rays, who have won four of six
meetings between the teams after going 4-15 against New York last

"We've been their punching bag for a while, so it's good to go
out there and take three of four," said Huff, who had a pair of
run-scoring singles.

Tampa Bay's three-game winning streak follows an eight-game skid
that matched the second-longest in the majors this season. The
Devil Rays rebounded from losing the series opener to outscore the
Yankees 28-14 over the last three games.

"You beat a team that's highly respected, you should feel good
about yourself," manager Lou Piniella said.

The Yankees held a team meeting before the game, with manager
Joe Torre urging his players to forget the past and focus on the
present as the club tries to fight its way out of its toughest
stretch in a decade.

"We continue to do the same things. There's no place else to
go. You keep waiting for a good result. That's basically what it
comes down to," Torre said.

"We're being tested right now. You certainly have to just keep
fighting and realize there is no magical formula."

Sanchez went 3-for-3 with two bunt singles and a solo homer. The
speedy outfielder also stole two bases to help the Devil Rays win a
series against the Yankees for the first time under Piniella.

"Coming into this series with the struggles we had on the road,
it's a little surprising," Tampa Bay's Toby Hall said. "It just
goes to show how baseball can change at any time."

Gary Sheffield hit a two-run homer for New York, trimming a
fourth-inning deficit to 3-2. Tampa Bay pulled away with two runs
in the fifth and went up 6-2 in the seventh on Sanchez's homer off
Buddy Groom.

Hendrickson (1-1) allowed two runs and seven hits in 7 1/3
innings. The left-hander lost all three of his starts against the
Yankees in 2004, pitching to an 8.59 ERA. He beat New York for just
the second time in six career decisions.

Wang, filling injured Jaret Wright's spot in the rotation,
walked Sanchez on four pitches to open the first and gave up an RBI
double to Carl Crawford later in the inning. The Devil Rays made it
3-0 in the third on Huff's run-scoring single and Phelps' sacrifice

The 25-year-old right-hander from Taiwan pitched seven strong
innings in his major league debut last Saturday but didn't get a
decision in the Yankees' win over Toronto. This time, he yielded
five runs and eight hits in six innings.

"We have just not played up to our capability or up to our
expectations," Torre said, nevertheless playing down the
significance of being tied for last place this late in a season for
the first time since June 1995.

"I don't think it's a concern where we are as opposed to what
we're doing," the manager said. "Standings don't mean anything
until the last day of the season."

Game notes
Sanchez, who tied a Devil Rays record by scoring four
times, has a 10-game hitting streak. He also has scored in 10
consecutive games, a club record. ... New York's Jason Giambi did
not play after being hit in the side of the head by a pitch that
glanced off his shoulder Wednesday night. A CT scan was negative
and he was day-to-day. ... Tampa Bay is 10-8 at home and 1-10 on
the road. ... Yankees DH Bernie Williams is scheduled to have an
MRI on his sore right elbow when the Yankees return home Friday to
begin a series against Oakland.