ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The New York Yankees wasted a golden chance to gain ground in the AL East.
"It's tough that we're not able to hold them down," New York manager Joe Girardi said after Tampa Bay won for the third time in nine games.
The Yankees have lost six of eight.
"He came up with the big hit right there and got us the win," Rays starter Jake Odorizzi said.
J.P. Arencibia made it 6-3 with a two-run single in the eighth.
Rodriguez hit his 32nd homer this season and 686th of his career off Odorizzi (8-8) in the first hours after the team learned he is playing with a bruised left knee. Rodriguez moved past Craig Biggio into sole possession of 21st place all-time with his 3,061st hit.
Rodriguez had an MRI earlier Tuesday and was also examined by team orthopedist Daniel Murphy. It is thought that Rodriguez was hurt sliding in Sunday's game against Toronto.
"He's fine," Girardi said.
Bird gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead on a two-run homer in the fourth that came on the 10th pitch of the at-bat.
Tampa Bay center fielder Kevin Kiermaier took away a potential game-tying extra-base hit from Gardner with a running catch on the warning track to end the seventh.
"He's an amazing center fielder," Girardi said. "He's as good as I've seen."
Rodriguez nearly had his second opposite-field homer of the game in the eighth, but his leadoff drive was caught on the warning track.
Adam Warren gave up two runs and six hits over four innings in a spot start for the Yankees.
Yankees: Girardi said RHP Nathan Eovaldi remains shut down from throwing.
Rays: X-rays on Cabrera were negative. ... Reliever Jake McGee (left knee) could throw a simulated game Thursday.
Boxing legend Jake LaMotta watched part of batting practice on the field. LaMotta, 93, also took part in a program at the Ted Williams Museum, which is located at Tropicana Field.
Rodriguez has 55 homers against the Rays, the most of any opponent. ... He has gone deep eight times against Tampa Bay this season, five at Tropicana Field. ... Rodriguez has six homers in his last 11 games after having just three in a 32-game stretch.
Yankees leadoff hitter Jacoby Ellsbury went 0 for 4 and is hitless in 25 at-bats.
"He's got to fight through it," Girardi said. "This is a guy we really need."
Yankees: Rookie RHP Luis Severino (3-3) looks to bounce back Wednesday night after allowing a career-high six earned runs over 2 1/3 innings in Friday's 11-5 loss to Toronto.
Rays: RHP Chris Archer (12-11), Wednesday night's starter, is 5-1 against the Yankees. The lone loss came in his last start against them on Sept 6.
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Arozarena clears the bases for the Rays
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