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(Friday, April 6th)
Final Score: Tampa Bay 7, New York 6
St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) - After Evan Longoria sent Tampa Bay into the postseason on the final day of last year's regular season, the Rays kicked off 2012 with another dramatic come-from-behind victory over the New York Yankees.
Carlos Pena, who launched a grand slam in his first at-bat since rejoining the Tampa Bay, singled in the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Rays defeated the Yankees, 7-6, in the season opener for both teams.
Pena finished 3-for-5 with five runs batted in his return to the Rays after a stint with the Chicago Cubs last season.
"This energy that we got going and things like this happen, I don't think it's a coincidence, it's actually a consequence of how tight we are and how hard we pull for each other," Pena said of the win.
Fernando Rodney (1-0) tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for the Rays, who used Boston's monumental September collapse to sneak into the postseason last year as the wild-card.
They rallied from a 7-0, eighth-inning deficit in the 162nd game last season to beat the Yankees 8-7 in 12 innings. Longoria, who went 3-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI on Friday, laced the game-winning home run.
James Shields, who rebounded from a subpar 2010 by tossing 11 complete games and four shutouts in 2011, was touched for six runs in five innings. He allowed nine hits and three walks while striking out three.
Newly acquired designated hitter Raul Ibanez smacked a three-run home run, while Alex Rodriguez went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and Robinson Cano added two hits for New York.
Mariano Rivera (0-1) was 60-of-61 in save opportunities against Tampa Bay prior to Friday.
"It's going to happen, I saw Valverde blow one yesterday and he hadn't blown one in over a year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It happens, it's baseball."
CC Sabathia went six innings and allowed four of his five runs in the opening frame. He gave up eight hits and three walks while fanning seven.
"I liked the way he finished and I hope that will be good for his next start," Girardi said of Sabathia's outing.
Trailing 6-5 heading into the home half of the ninth, Desmond Jennings began the frame with a single up the middle and Ben Zobrist followed with a game- tying triple into the right-field gap.
After the Yankees intentionally walked both Longoria and Luke Scott, Rivera struck out Sean Rodriguez.
But Pena came up next and drove a deep fly ball off the base of the wall in left-center field to bring home Zobrist.
The Rays jumped out to a quick 4-0 advantage in the home half of the first.
Jennings started the inning with a walk and following Zobrist's lineout to center, Longoria reached on a single. Jeff Keppinger grounded out to first base, moving the runners to second and third.
Instead of pitching to Sean Rodriguez, manager Joe Girardi elected to walk him and go after Pena, who was 4-for-35 lifetime with two homers against Sabathia entering the at-bat.
With the count full, Pena crushed a high fastball into the right-field seats.
New York plated two in the second.
Ibanez drove in Alex Rodriguez with a groundout to second and a batter later, Mark Texeira crossed home on Shields' wild pitch to make it 4-2.
Ibanez led the charge in the top of the third as New York took their first lead.
With Cano at third and none out, Nick Swisher chopped a groundball to first. Pena decided to go home with the throw, which was a bit wide and allowed Cano to evade Jose Molina's tag before touching the plate with his left hand to make it 4-3.
Ibanez came up next and worked a 3-1 count before lining a fastball into the right-field bleachers for a 6-4 Yankees advantage.
The Rays got a run back in the bottom half of the third on Longoria's solo shot to left.
David Robertson escaped a first-and-third, no-out jam in the home half of the eighth by striking out the side.
New York has made the postseason in 16 of the past 17 seasons, and has won the AL East 12 times during that span...Pena is just the second player to hit a grand slam off of Sabathia. Edgar Renteria is the other...Curtis Granderson became the first Yankee to hit 30 home runs, 10 triples and swipe 20 bags last season, but went 0-for-5 with two punchouts Friday...Sabathia made his ninth career Opening Day start and fourth with New York...The Rays are without closer Kyle Farnsworth, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a sore right elbow.
04/06 23:04:37 ET