The Yankees fall to Rice as Nestor Cortes struggles to lose

Street. PETERSBURG, FL — The Yankees returned to Tuesday night’s game in an unexpected way: It was second-half Homer Marwin Gonzalez at the top of the ninth place that got them into the race.

The blast got them exactly where they were hoping when the inning started, with Aaron Judge coming to the plate as a peg.

A pinch-hit for Joey Gallo against the left-handed Colin Butch, Judge sent a fly ball to the left, but broke his racket in the play, as their comeback failed in a 5-4 loss at Tropicana Field.

“Every time he steps onto the board, you expect something to happen,” Gonzalez said of Judge. “He’s the best player in the league now.”

But the judge couldn’t work his magic on Tuesday.

We heard the sound [of the bat breaking]Gonzalez said. “When we saw the ball fly, we expected to go [out]. Everyone else hits a ball like that, it’s a hard hit on the shortstop. Unfortunately, he didn’t come out.”

Nestor Curtis is knocked out of the game during the fifth game of the Yankees’ 5-4 loss to Reyes.

The Yankees were in this spot because Nestor Cortes was hit hard for the second time in his last three starts, with the left-hander allowing three queues per season, all on the breakers.

This was the Yankees’ second loss in three games. They are still losing only two of their past 12 games, and three of their 20 have fallen to 50-18 in the season.

Isaac Paredes – who hit three guards in the night – and Harold Ramirez went back-to-back Curtis at the bottom of the first.

The Yankees tied Game 2 with DJ LeMahieu’s single.

Isaac Paredes hits one of his three home runs during the fifth inning of the Yankees' loss to the Rays.
Isaac Paredes hits one of his three home runs during the fifth inning of the Yankees’ loss to the Rays.
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But Curtis’ tough night continued into the third, as Paredes took him deep again to give Reyes a 3-2 lead.

The left-winger had only allowed six teammates in his 12 matches before Tuesday and fell out of fifth after a single by Yandy Diaz – and Paredes back again.

Clark Schmidt entered and had the same fate as Curtis, with Paredes returning for the third time that night to make the score 5-2.

A group of Rays reducers calmed the Yankee lineup, as Tampa Bay used seven bowlers to win only the second time in eight games as the Rays try to fend off the Red Sox to stay in third place.

The Yankees threatened to finish eighth, with LeMahieu and Josh Donaldson running around against Luke Raley before Anthony Rizzo ran out to the left.

The inning ended when Stanton smashed a hard kick to the right of Taylor Walls that the short was able to reach and turn into a double.

Curtis is in the midst of his first tough patch of the season.

Josh Donaldson congratulates Kyle Higashioka after he scored a run in the second half of a Yankees loss.
Josh Donaldson congratulates Kyle Higashioka after he scored a run in the second half of a Yankees loss.
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The Twins got him for four runs in 4¹/innings on June 8 before rebounding again with a strong outing last Wednesday against Rays in The Bronx.

But on Tuesday, facing Tampa Bay for the second time in less than a week and the third time since May 26, Curtis was hit — and not only were the homeowners hurt.

Diaz smoked a liner and was left in the third and only in the fifth.

Curtis said the fact that Rice’s family had seen him a lot in recent weeks was “definitely on my mind.”

“Maybe that gave them a little bit of an advantage, but if I had better positioned myself, I could have done the job,” Curtis said.

Aaron Boone thought Rays “ran out” when looking for the cutter at times and added that he didn’t allow Curtis to stay in the game any longer to try to get his stuff back because he doesn’t have the experience that some of the other Beginners have.

Curtis left with ERA North 2.00 for the first time this season (2.31) and the Yankees lost only for the second time in Curtis’ last eight games.

Third Yankee pitcher of the night Ron Marinaccio hit Paredes with a pitch with two in the seventh, but it was an 83-mph change.