Alex Cobb stymied the Yankees on three hits over seven scoreless innings as the Rays completed their sweep of the Yankees with a 4-0 victory, Tampa's seventh in a row.
Efficient, throwing 61 of 96 pitches for strikes, Cobb improved to 11-3, walking two and striking out four. Evan Longoria went 3-for-4 and drove in three of Tampa's runs, the other coming off the bat of Delmon Young, who hit a solo shot in the seventh inning off Yankee starter, Ivan Nova.
It was an emotional night for Mariano Rivera, who set down four batters in order between the eighth and ninth innings in his final appearance at Yankee Stadium. Manager Jo Girardi pulled him with two out in the ninth so that the crowd could deliver one final standing ovation to a Yankee favorite.
The Rays remained a game ahead of Cleveland and in position for the first wild card, which would give them home field for the one-game playoff. The Indians and Rangers also were winners Thursday, with the Rangers a game behind Cleveland with just three games left to play.
The Rays close out the regular season with three games at Toronto, while Texas finishes at home against the Angels and Cleveland plays their final three in Minnesota.
AL Wild Card Standings (through 9/26)
Atlanta, however, tied St. Louis for the best record in the league with a 7-1 win over the Phillies in the first game of their season-ending, four-game series. The Braves and Cardinals have identical 95-69 records with three games remaining.
Jason Heyward had a big night for the Braves, going 5-for-5 with three doubles, a single and a solo home run. Heyward drove in one and scored twice as the Braves scored all seven runs in the first two innings.
The Cardinals close out the regular season at home, hosting the Cubs for three games, while the Reds and Pirates face each other for the final three games, in Cincinnati.
Today's Trivia: Nolan Ryan led the AL in strikeouts seven times in the eight seasons from 1972 to 1979. In 1975 his streak was interrupted by a teammate. Who was it? (answer tomorrow)
Yesterday's Answer: Sandy Koufax struck out 382 batters in 1965, pitching for the LA Dodgers.