Rays rough up Rivera, hand Yankees fifth straight loss

NEW YORK -- Carl Crawford hit the kind of home run that's becoming common at Yankee Stadium, a late shot that doomed New York to defeat.

Then for good measure, Evan Longoria belted one off Mariano Rivera that's never been hit before.

Crawford and Longoria connected on back-to-back homers in the ninth inning off the All-Star closer, the first time it's happened in Rivera's career, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat New York 8-6 on Thursday night for the Yankees' fifth consecutive loss.

"In that situation, you're really just hoping to get a runner on and advance him," said Longoria, who had two of Tampa Bay's six homers. "We just got him."

Rivera (0-1) had not given up consecutive homers in 862 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. He's given up four home runs this season, matching his total for each of the last two.

"I thought they were good pitches, especially to Crawford, but he put good wood on the ball," said Rivera, who admitted that his velocity isn't back to normal after having shoulder surgery last year. "The one to Longoria caught a little more of the plate."

Johnny Damon hit a tying, two-run homer in the eighth for New York -- one of two Yankees home runs. There have been 47 homers hit at the new Yankee Stadium, 32 of them to right.

The Yankees are just 6-7 at the ballpark, and at one game under .500 matched their overall low point from the original Yankee Stadium, according to Elias. They were 11-12 there in 1923.

"People are going to wonder what's going on with the Yankees," manager Joe Girardi said. "This is a team effort. You can't blame one aspect of the club."

Brian Shouse (1-0) got the win in relief, thanks to an obscure scoring rule, and Joe Nelson got the final out for his first save.

Jason Bartlett, Ben Zobrist and Carlos Pena also went deep for Tampa Bay, which won its third straight for the first time this season. It was Pena's major league-leading 13th, and came one night after his 10th-inning homer gave the Rays a 4-3 victory after New York had also rallied to tie it.

"I like that fact that when we play with that kind of intensity, it brings out the best in us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "It's a good feeling, a nice feeling, to see us back on track."

The five-game losing streak is the Yankees' longest since May 2007. All of the losses have come at the new $1.5 billion ballpark, after New York endured only 33 losing streaks of five or more games at its old ballpark just across 161st Street, according to Elias.

The Yankees should get some help when they open a six-game road trip Friday night in Baltimore. Alex Rodriguez is expected to rejoin the team for the first time since spring training, after the three-time AL MVP wrapped up a rehab stint following hip surgery on March 9.

Manager Joe Girardi is hoping his big bat will provide some timely hitting. The Yankees are 6 for 43 with runners in scoring position during their skid. The biggest offender Thursday night was Mark Teixeira, their $180 million first baseman, who was 0-for-5 and left five runners on base.

Neither starting pitcher was particularly effective.

Jeff Niemann last only 3 1/3 innings, allowing two runs and three hits with four walks, while Andy Pettitte allowed a career-high four homers for New York.

Bartlett led off the game with a homer, and Pena homered two batters later into the right-field bleachers. Longoria's two-run shot in the third made it 4-0.

The Yankees rallied with three runs in the fourth on doubles by Jose Molina and Damon, and Hideki Matsui homered on a full count leading off the fifth to tie it. But the Rays answered right back with Zobrist's two-out homer into the left-field seats, and Pat Burrell's RBI single in the seventh.

"Our guys were really swinging the bat today," Maddon said.

Game notes
Rivera also gave up homers to Boston's Jason Bay (April 24) and Detroit's Curtis Granderson (April 29). ... Rays OF B.J. Upton was out of the starting lineup because of flu-like symptoms. ... Yankees C Molina left the game after straining his left quadriceps in the fourth.