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NEW YORK -- Luis Severino was comfortable conducting his first postgame interview in English in front of a sizable media contingent.
The rookie right-hander looked equally at ease on the mound, especially with runners on during an important start for the New York Yankees.
Severino highlighted a career-high 6 1/3-inning performance Friday night by striking out center fielder Kevin Kiermaier with two outs and two on in the top of the sixth and the Yankees opened a 10-game homestand with a 5-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
"I have confidence every time I take the mound," Severino said after his sixth career start. Everything (worked) -- my slider, my changeup and my fastball."
The Yankees won for the sixth time in seven games despite getting four hits and not having a plate appearance with a runner in scoring position. The offense was just enough since designated hitter Alex Rodriguez and rookie first baseman Greg Bird hit two-run home runs while catcher Brian McCann hit a solo homer.
Those home runs were enough for Severino (3-2), who won despite tying a career-high with seven hits allowed. Severino also issued three walks but struck out five in a 91-pitch outing.
"We feel a lot better about him," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "We saw him that little bit in spring training. We knew he threw very well when he was in Double-A and Triple-A but until you actually go through it up here, you're always wondering how a guy is going to adapt. He has adapted very well. He has confidence in what he is doing. He understands what he needs to do. He has confidence in all his pitches and he does a really good job."
One of those hits was a solo home run to third baseman Evan Longoria on the first pitch of the sixth. The sixth hit he gave up was a single to first baseman James Loney, putting runners at first and second.
Three pitches later the threat was erased and the 3-1 lead remained. After getting ahead on breaking pitches, Severino ended it with a high fastball.
"It's what we expect from him and I think it's what he expects from himself," Bird said. "He threw a great game tonight and it's fun to watch."
Severino pumped his fist slightly and clapped into his glove as he walked off the mound. After allowing his final hit, the 21-year-old exited to a standing ovation with one out in the seventh.
"I wanted to get him," Severino said. "I wanted to get the out and keep going."
The Yankees gave Severino a 3-0 lead on Rodriguez's 27th home run with nobody out in the second and McCann's 24th with one out in the fourth. After left-hander Justin Wilson retired the final hitters representing the potential tying run in the seventh, Bird hit his fourth with one out in the seventh.
Those hits came off left-hander Jake Odorizzi (6-8), who did not allow any other hits in 6 1/3 innings. His winless streak reached seven games and it marked the 10th time, the Rays gave him one run or fewer.
"The first two were good pitches," Odorizzi said. "The McCann one was down and away and off the plate and the A-Rod one was a first-pitch slider away and he was out in front of it and just yanked it. The last one was a bad split that just stayed middle and didn't drop, so that was the most frustrating one."
The Rays lost for the seventh time in 11 games although they created a save situation when catcher J.P. Arencibia doubled off Adam Warren with one out in the ninth. Andrew Miller quickly finished up for his 30th save in 31 chances.
"Little bit of a strange pitching duel," Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. "We got the hits but couldn't get anything across and Odorizzi didn't give up anything. The ones he did left the ballpark."
NOTES: New York 1B Mark Teixeira (bruised right shin) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Friday. ... Tampa Bay OF Steven Souza Jr. (fractured left hand) will begin a three-game rehab stint with Triple-A Durham before the team decides to activate him. Souza took early batting practice Friday and felt no pain or soreness. ... LHP CC Sabathia (sore right knee) threw a four-inning simulated game consisting of about 60 to 70 pitches and felt no pain. If he is pain-free in the next few days, the Yankees said he probably will return to the rotation Wednesday against Baltimore. ... Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said LHP Matt Moore will not have any pitch restrictions Saturday afternoon. ... New York CF Jacoby Ellsbury exited after the fourth inning with a stomach virus that manager Joe Girardi described as flu-like symptoms. He may not play Saturday.
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