By MIKE FITZPATRICK
AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Brandon Lowe hit three home runs and the Tampa Bay Rays rolled to a 12-2 blowout of the Yankees on Saturday that prevented New York from clinching a playoff spot.
With a chance to pitch his team into the postseason, Yankees starter Jordan Montgomery instead was rocked for a career-worst seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. He gave up a pair of early three-run homers to Lowe, who also went deep in the seventh against Michael King.
Even with the embarrassing defeat before a booing Yankee Stadium crowd of 41,648, New York could still punch its postseason ticket Saturday with losses by Toronto and Seattle later in the day.
Or, a victory in the scheduled regular-season finale Sunday against Tampa Bay would guarantee the Yankees an AL wild card.
New York is assured at least a tiebreaker game Monday that could put the team in the playoffs for the fifth straight season. But after dropping the first two games of this series, the Yankees no longer control their own destiny to host the wild-card game. They now need a Boston loss to do so.
New York began the day with a one-game lead over the Red Sox for the league’s top wild card. Boston was playing at Washington.
Lowe batted in the eighth with an opportunity to match the major league record of four home runs in a game. He evaded a 93 mph fastball from Joely Rodriguez that was way inside, then grounded out to first base.
Lowe and Mike Zunino homered back-to-back off Montgomery (6-7) in the third to make it 7-1. Austin Meadows added a three-run shot in the seventh as the AL East champion Rays (100-61) reached 100 wins for the first time in team history.
Tampa Bay, which has already wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the American League playoffs, had never before been 39 games over .500.
Zunino, Randy Arozarena and Wander Franco had three hits apiece for the Rays, who outhit New York 19-4.
Luis Patino (5-3) worked two hitless innings for the win.
Rays: With manager Kevin Cash looking to rest 1B Ji-Man Choi and INF Joey Wendle, catcher Francisco Mejía made his first career start at first base.
Yankees: 3B DJ LeMahieu missed his second consecutive game with a sports hernia that will require offseason surgery, but the two-time batting champion will attempt to play through the injury in October. He received a cortisone injection Friday and the team hopes he can return to the lineup Sunday … 1B Luke Voit probably will be sidelined for at least a couple of weeks with left knee inflammation. Voit, placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday, could potentially return later in October if the Yankees advance deep enough in the postseason, manager Aaron Boone said.
Rays: Recalled RHP Chris Mazza from Triple-A Durham and optioned RHP Louis Head, who stayed with the big league team on the taxi squad.
Yankees: Recalled infielder Andrew Velazquez from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and optioned reliever Albert Abreu to their top farm club. Velazquez started at shortstop and Gio Urshela shifted back to third base, his natural position.
RHP Michael Wacha (3-5, 5.26 ERA) pitches the regular-season finale Sunday for Tampa Bay. New York had not announced a starter — Jameson Taillon (right ankle) is an option after throwing a successful bullpen Friday.
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