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Morton, playoff-chasing Rays hold Yanks to 1 hit in 4-0 win

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Charlie Morton and the Tampa Bay pitching staff made quite an impression on New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone.

Morton and the Tampa Bay bullpen combined on a one-hitter and the Rays increased their lead in the AL wild-card race, beating the Yankees 4-0 Wednesday night.

"This is what they're capable of," Boone said. "This is a big reason why they're in this position because they can really pitch."

Tampa Bay has a 1 1/2 -game lead over Cleveland for the second wild-card spot and is half-game behind Oakland.

Morton (16-6) threw 64 of 100 pitches for strikes.

"Every time he takes the ball we really need him to step up," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He certainly did tonight and quieted arguably the best lineup in baseball."

Morton, by the fourth inning, had no illusions of going the distance despite his performance.

"I'd love to throw a no-hitter, but I'm pretty sure Cash is not going to leave me out there for 140 pitches no matter how well I'm throwing," Morton said.

The Rays swept a two-game series from the 102-win Yankees, holding them to DJ LeMahieu's soft, clean single to right field with two outs in the sixth inning off Morton.

"He was hitting his spot, good (velocity) as always, and that curveball, it's a good pitch," LeMahieu said.

New York started the day 1 1/2 games in back of Houston for the best record in the majors.

Morton struck out nine and walked three in six innings. Four relievers finished it out for the Rays.

Joey Wendle homered on the third pitch from opener Jonathan Loaisiga (2-2) and Brandon Lowe added an RBI single in the first.

J.A. Happ, who will be a reliever in the postseason, replaced Loaisiga to start the second. The lefty allowed one run, four hits and struck out six over five innings.

Matt Duffy's sixth-inning RBI double off Happ put Tampa Bay ahead 3-0.

Avisail Garcia made it 4-0 on a solo shot in the eighth -- the ball hit one of the catwalks at Tropicana Field, rattled around the beams for a moment and then dropped down, where it was caught in left field by Cameron Maybin. By the ballpark's ground rules, that's a home run.

After LeMahieu's hit, Aaron Judge drew a walk from Morton. The right-hander got out of the jam by getting a grounder from Brett Gardner.

Nick Anderson entered with two on and two outs in the eighth and struck out Judge.

EMPTY SEATS

Tampa Bay drew 20,390 and finished with home attendance of 1,178,735 in 80 dates, an average of 14,734 and up slightly from last year's total of 1,154,973 and average of 14,259. The average was the Rays' fifth-lowest, ahead of only last year, 2005, 2002 and 2003.

ROAD AHEAD

The Yankees' ALDS opponent has not been determined but AL Central champion Minnesota is the likely foe. "They're a beast," Boone said. "We know how dangerous they are. It's a team that if you're not executing you're in some trouble."

POWER OUTAGE

The Yankees did not homer and are tied with Minnesota for the most in the majors with 299. No team has ever hit 300.

SUCCESSFUL SABATHIA

Yankees LHP CC Sabathia felt good one day after striking out two during a perfect fourth inning Tuesday in his first regular season relief appearance after making 560 starts. Boone hasn't ruled out using the 39-year old in back-to-back games.

GERMAN UPDATE

Yankees RHP Domingo German's administrative leave under Major League Baseball's domestic violence policy has been extended through the World Series. MLB and the players' association agreed to the extension, which ends German's season.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: 2B Gleyber Torres fouled a ball into the dirt and it bounced up and hit him in the jaw. He finished the at-bat and Boone said he is fine. ... 3B Gio Urshela, hit on the left hand by a pitch Tuesday, didn't play but could start Friday. ... C Gary Sanchez (strained left groin) and DH Edwin Encarnacion (strained left oblique) went through extensive pregame workouts and are expected back this weekend at Texas.

Rays: Ji-Man Choi fouled a ball off his right foot in the eighth and left after the inning. X-rays were negative but Choi's foot was very sore.

UP NEXT

Yankees: A starting pitcher for Friday night's game at Texas has not been announced.

Rays: Will face Blue Jays RHP T.J. Zeuch (1-1) Friday night to start a weekend series in Toronto.

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