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NYY@TB: Gardner goes yard with two-run shot in fourth

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees have excelled at playing with a short-handed roster this season, but there was a belief they were about to get most of their big stars back in the picture. Instead, there's a new problem to handle.

Curtis Granderson suffered a left hand fracture and will miss a minimum of four weeks, a loss that soured the celebratory mood of the Yankees' 9-4 victory over the Rays on Friday night at Tropicana Field.

"I think our team has had a lot of practice at it this year, so they're prepared for this, unfortunately," manager Joe Girardi said. "These guys know how to deal with it. They know you have to come out and play every day."

The Yankees have had 13 players on the disabled list this season, and Granderson will be back on the shelf by the time the club takes the field on Saturday afternoon. Robinson Cano said that even though the Yankees are in first place, they'd still like to feel whole again at some point.

"This is something that I don't think that you're ever going to be used to," Cano said. "The last thing you want is to see your teammates go down, especially a guy like Grandy. He worked back here, missed Spring Training, and then to get hurt like that -- you just feel bad."

The Yankees survived another late injury scare as starter David Phelps, pitching a career-high 7 2/3 innings, hung a curveball and was smoked by a Ben Zobrist line drive on his 98th and final pitch of the game.

Phelps spiked his glove to the artificial turf around the mound and was led off the field, but precautionary X-rays showed just a bruise and the right-hander is expected to be ready to make his next turn in the rotation.

"I was just mad. It's the first time I've ever been hit in the upper body," Phelps said. "It's one of those things that is frustrating because of what's been going on with our team with everyone getting hurt. I was like, 'I don't want to be the next guy.'"

Even without Granderson, who exited shortly after being drilled by Cesar Ramos' 90-mph sinker in the fifth inning and is expected to miss a minimum of four weeks, New York's lineup thumped Tampa Bay pitching for nine runs and 11 hits in the victory.

The Yankees pounded Roberto Hernandez for five runs in four innings, a good head start toward winning for just the fourth time in their last 17 games at Tropicana Field. Brett Gardner slugged a two-run homer, his fourth of the season, and both Lyle Overbay and Jayson Nix drove in a pair of runs.

"Pitching won the game tonight for them and not for us," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "You have to pitch better than the other team, and we just haven't done that with any kind of consistency."

New York batted around for three runs in the second inning against Hernandez and also sent nine men to the plate in the fifth against Ramos, building what was an 8-0 lead at the time.

The healthy support was plenty for Phelps, who retired the first 13 batters he faced before James Loney's fifth-inning double and picked up the victory for his second consecutive start. He allowed just six hits, walking none and striking out three.

"His location was excellent. I thought he changed speeds really well," Girardi said. "He gave us 7 2/3 -- good performance by him."

Pitching to the scoreboard, Phelps allowed three runs in the sixth -- Matt Joyce's RBI double being the only run-scoring hit -- and another in the seventh.

"I just got a little too much of the middle of the plate and I paid for it, but all in all, we got off to a big lead and I really didn't want to walk anyone," Phelps said. "I probably should have been a little more fine there, but it's a win. It's a win here, which is always hard to come by, and I'll take it."

Boone Logan notched the final out of the eighth before Shawn Kelley recorded the last three outs of the ninth in a non-save situation. The Yankees shook hands on the field, but there was a sense in the clubhouse that they'd lost more than they'd won on Friday.

"It seemed like we had been pretty good for a little bit there," Girardi said. "It's baseball. You've got to deal with it and we'll deal with it."

There was no loud music pumping through the clubhouse speakers, with a muted tone accompanying the postgame interviews conducted by Phelps and Granderson.

In the manager's office, Girardi's fingers danced across the screen of his iPhone, with the business of procuring a new outfielder -- probably Brennan Boesch from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre -- already in motion.

"You don't ever want to see your players get hurt, that's the bottom line," Girardi said. "I'm happy that we won the game, but we lost a really good player. That's never a good thing. We've figured it out, we'll figure it out. We'll get him back."

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