ST. PETERSBURG -- Arguably, Matt Garza had better stuff on Saturday night than he did on Monday night, but this time he got a no-decision.
On Monday night, the right-hander pitched the first no-hitter in team history. The difference? A healthy dose of luck and a different opponent. This time it was the Yankees, who were fortified further just prior to the passing of Saturday's 4 p.m. ET non-waiver Trade Deadline.
The result was a 5-4 Rays loss with a sellout crowd of 36,973 watching. Garza allowed the Yankees to get back in the game by allowing two game-tying homers, a two-run shot by Mark Teixeira in the sixth and a solo shot by Nick Swisher in the seventh. Robinson Cano hit the game-winner in the top of the ninth off closer Rafael Soriano.
By losing, the Rays dropped to two games behind the first-place Yankees in the American League East and watched their seven-game winning streak come to a close; the Rays are now 64-39 on the season. Even so, the loss was just the Rays' seventh in their past 27 games.
The Yankees have won 18 of their past 24 games, 19 of 26 and 25 of 36. They were held to just six hits on Saturday night, but all of them went for extra bases.
"It's a ridiculous lineup, you know," Garza said. "[Lance] Berkman comes in today and makes a tough lineup even tougher. I don't know what to say. I don't know how many All-Stars are on that team. I think they could field an All-Star team with the lineups they have."
Garza believed he had good stuff on Saturday night, noting that he was able to control his slider and curveball. In the process, he tied his season high, with nine strikeouts in seven innings.
"Garza was on his game today," Swisher said. "I felt like every strike was right on the corner. He mixed his pitches, he had a good breaking ball tonight, and it was just a big game for us. Especially the way the game ended for us last night, to be able to come back today and battle, fight and get those late home runs was huge."
Though Garza was pleased with his performance, he understood his downfall, which came down to two mistakes: a double he allowed to Derek Jeter before Teixeira's home run, and on the home run Swisher hit.
"Fastball away to Jeter and then the hanging curveball to Swisher," Garza said.
"We battled, fought back," he added. "This one falls back on me. They spotted me a two-run lead, and I give it away. Then they spot me another one, and I give it away. That's uncalled-for. I had these guys beat, and I just gave it away. That's all there is to it."
With one out in the ninth and the score tied at 4, Cano sent a 1-0 pitch from Soriano into the right-field stands to give the Yankees their first lead of the game, a lead that held after Mariano Rivera came in to hold the Rays scoreless in the bottom half of the ninth.
Cano went 3-for-4, with two doubles complementing the decisive homer. When the statement was made to manager Joe Maddon that the Rays have seen the best of Cano this season, he responded: "The whole league has this whole year. This guy's been very good all season. He hit the line drive to right his first at-bat, the line drive to left-center, the home run down the right-field line. He is one of the best hitters in the league right now."
Rays pitchers did manage to hold Alex Rodriguez in check on Saturday night. The slugger went into the weekend series one home run shy of No. 600, and after the contest, he remained that way.
The third baseman isn't about to sulk about it, though, when his team won and the atmosphere felt alive.
"The atmosphere here is great," Rodriguez said. "Their fans are into it, and you have two of the best teams in baseball going at it. These were two very well played ballgames. ... Huge night by Robbie. We feel like we stole one tonight, because they were pretty much in control all night."
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.