In defeat, the Rays finished the season in third place, 19 games behind the first-place Yankees. Tampa Bay won 11 of its final 16 games and went 12-7 after suffering through an 11-game losing streak from Sept. 3-13.
Making his sixth Major League start, rookie right-hander Wade Davis held New York scoreless through the first five innings and appeared to be cruising through a daunting lineup.
Davis' fate changed in the sixth inning, when the names making up that daunting lineup began to send reminders about how they made their bones.
Johnny Damon doubled to lead off the sixth before Mark Teixeira drew a walk to bring Rodriguez to the plate. Davis threw a first-pitch fastball that Rodriguez liked. He swung and deposited the ball into the left-field stands to put the Yankees up, 3-2.
Later in the sixth -- with the Yankees leading, 6-2 -- Rodriguez faced Andy Sonnanstine with the bases loaded and drove a fastball from the right-hander into the right-field stands.
"It was supposed to be a fastball in, and it was a fastball away," said Sonnanstine, noting that the home run was a combination of a poorly thrown pitch meeting the skills of a talented hitter.
Rodriguez's seven RBIs in one inning set a new American League record. Fernando Tatis is the only other player in Major League history to record seven or more RBIs in one inning, having done it for the Cardinals on April 23, 1999, when he hit two grand slams in one inning.
With his impressive day, Rodriguez reached 30 home runs and 100 RBIs for the season, giving him 12 consecutive seasons in which he has reached the mark, tying Jimmie Foxx's record.
"I was actually talking to [Eric] Hinske, and I said, 'I may have one shot,'" Rodriguez said. "If they load the bases, I might pop one, you never know. Obviously, I was joking around. When I hit it, I thought of it."
Meanwhile, New York's 10-run inning was the second time Tampa Bay has allowed 10 or more runs in an inning in its final nine games. The Rangers scored 11 runs in the fifth inning against the visiting Rays on Sept. 26.
Davis took the loss to finish the season at 2-2 with a 3.72 ERA. Rodriguez's home run was the first homer allowed by Davis since the second inning of his Major League debut on Sept. 6, when Detroit's Aubrey Huff took him deep.
"The first inning kind of knocked the wind out of me, so it took me a little while to get going in the second," Davis said. "I don't know what it was. It got kind of hazy. I don't know what it was. Then in the fifth inning -- I don't know, that really knocked the wind out of me. I went out there in the sixth and just didn't have it."
Evan Longoria hit his 33rd home run of the season in the first inning on a 3-2 pitch from A.J. Burnett to stake the Rays to a 1-0 lead. Longoria scored on Jose Molina's passed ball in the fifth to put Tampa Bay up, 2-0.
Longoria finished the season with a 3-for-3 performance that ended a 2-for-21 skid on the homestand. He is one of four players in Major League history with at least 33 home runs, 112 RBIs and 44 doubles before the age of 24, joining Albert Pujols, Rodriguez and Hal Trosky.
Maddon believes the Rays have a lot to look forward to next season.
"I'll take a couple of days off -- I won't think about it too much," Maddon said. "But soon afterward, I'm going to start thinking about it. I'm going to start planning it out for next summer. There's no doubt we'll be right back in it, and our goal is to get back to the World Series again in 2010, period. Nothing else really matters in regard to our goal-setting. We want to end back up in the [World] Series."