Music blared in the Tampa Bay clubhouse and four large, flat-screen televisions mounted around a column in the middle of the room were tuned to the same in-house channel displaying the AL East standings.

The surprising Rays are on top, and the sputtering Yankees are on the bottom. No one was gloating, though.

"I want us to celebrate hard for 30 minutes postgame and then move on. I want us to dwell on a loss for no more than 30 minutes," manager Joe Maddon said after yesterday's 5-2 victory dumped visiting New York into the cellar.

"Sometimes I get away from my own rule on the negative side. But I think the guys are handling this very well. It's the confidence that's been gained. It's the momentum that you create . . . It's a feeling that did not exist before, so first of all, you have to nurture it and grow it, and then once you got it, you have to do everything you can to hold on to it because it can go away."

Scott Kazmir pitched well in his first start since agreeing to a $28.5 million contract extension, and Akinori Iwamura and Shawn Riggans homered off Ian Kennedy to help Tampa Bay win for the seventh time in eight games.

Kazmir (2-1) allowed three singles in six scoreless innings, even though he's still trying to regain his form after spending April on the disabled list with a left elbow strain sustained in spring training.

"I'll take it," said Kazmir, who also gave up three hits in six scoreless innings in his previous start against the Los Angeles Angels.

"I feel like I'm fighting myself just a little bit. The velocity is not where I want it right now . . . It feels like I'm just on the verge. The next start or two, it feels like everything is going to come together."

Tampa Bay (24-17), which started play in 1998, has been alone atop the division standings for three consecutive days for the first time. The Rays won three of four from New York and have captured six of seven series in building the best record in the AL.

The Yankees (20-22) have lost six of nine and got another shaky performance from Kennedy (0-3), recalled from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre for his sixth start of the season.

In other games:

* At Cleveland, an unearned run against Aaron Laffey caused by his own throwing error ended the scoreless streak by Indians starters at 44 1/3 innings but didn't interrupt their string of dominant outings after a 4-2 win over Oakland. Laffey (2-2) allowed just the unearned run and five hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking one.

* At Kansas City, Jose Guillen homered and drove in three runs, Gil Meche (3-5) pitched seven solid innings and the Royals beat Detroit, 8-4.

* At Minneapolis, pinch-hitter Joe Inglett sliced a two-out, bases-loaded single through the infield in the 11th inning, helping Toronto beat Minnesota, 3-2.

Noteworthy

* Tampa Bay Rays baseball executives unveiled a $450 million financing plan for a 34,000-seat waterfront ballpark. Team executives are counting on the sale of their current home, Tropicana Field, the continuation of a hotel bed tax and $55 million in parking revenues over the life of the new stadium.

* Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to play in the first of three extended spring-training games tomorrow. A-Rod hasn't seen game action since April 28 because of a strained right quadriceps. He hopes to rejoin the team Tuesday. *