NEW YORK — Vernon Wells glanced at the scoreboard and noted that the fastball he'd seen well clocked in at 96 mph.
Big slump or not, Wells felt good about his pinch-hit at-bat with the Yankees trailing Tampa Bay in the seventh inning Saturday. So with a confident swing, he smashed a three-run, go-ahead double that carried New York to a 7-5 win over the Rays.
Wells was in a 9-for-87 slide that landed him on the bench the past two days, with rookie outfielder Zoilo Almonte starting in his place. But with the Yankees down 5-4, Wells batted for No. 9 hitter Chris Stewart with the bases loaded and two outs.
"Through his struggles, I think his at-bats against lefties were still pretty good," manager Joe Girardi said. "We just liked the matchup. Vern's been doing it for a long time in big spots."
Wells' drive to right-center bounced above the top of the wall, where it hit a fan's glove and was ruled fan interference.
The umpires allowed all three runners to cross home plate, determining David Adams would have scored from first base if not for the fan interference. They sent Wells back to second, but the Yankees suddenly had a 7-5 lead.
Rays manager Joe Maddon argued that it should have been called a ground-rule double, with only two runs scoring.
"It was good to hit a ball and it not land in somebody's glove," Wells said. "And it came at a great time."
Tampa Bay led 5-3 after top prospect Wil Myers hit a grand slam for his first career home run in the sixth.
Wells' first extra-base hit since May 31 got CC Sabathia (8-5) off the hook after he allowed five runs in seven innings.
"It's frustrating," Sabathia said. "I'm happy these guys came back and were able to overcome that."
Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless ninth for his 26th save.
Meanwhile, Almonte kept up his hot hitting, starting in Wells' place in left field. On Friday night, he went 3 for 4 with a home run. He was 1 for 2 with two walks and three RBIs on Saturday.
"It's not easy at all, but I'm trying my best," Almonte said through a translator. "I feel like I'm seeing the ball really well and I just hope it continues."
David Robertson came on after the Yankees took the lead and pitched a perfect eighth with two strikeouts.
Joel Peralta (1-4) took over for the Rays in the seventh and immediately got in trouble. He loaded the bases with one out on two walks and Lyle Overbay's double, and was pulled for lefty Jake McGee.
McGee struck out Jayson Nix for the second out but walked Adams to force in a run, the second time the Yankees scored on a bases-loaded walk. Adams had never drawn a walk in 86 career plate appearances before Saturday; he had two in the game.
Wells then batted for Stewart, who was 0 for 3 with a double play to end a second-inning threat.