- Associated Press - Friday, July 8, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Derek Jeter kept swinging, from the first pitch to the final out.

Eager to make history and put the hoopla behind him, Jeter quickly doubled for his 2,998th career hit. That was all he got Thursday night as he grounded out the next four times up in the New York Yankees' 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays.

“After the first one, I’d be lying to you if I said I didn’t think it was attainable today,” Jeter said.

Jeter swung at all 11 strikes he got from starter Jeff Niemann and reliever Kyle Farnsworth while going 1 for 5. Jeter hit a liner to left-center field on the first pitch he saw of the night, and tapped a slow bouncer to end the evening.

“Early on, I thought I’d get a few,” he said.

Niemann (4-4) certainly was a familiar face. Two years ago, Jeter got three hits in a game off the right-hander to tie the Yankees‘ career hit record set by Lou Gehrig.

Jeter is set to become the 28th major leaguer to reach 3,000 hits and the first while playing for the Yankees. The Hall of Fame is full of Bronx Bombers, but neither Babe Ruth nor Joe DiMaggio nor Mickey Mantle nor Gehrig hit this mark.

Rays manager Joe Maddon counted himself among Jeter’s many fans.

“If anybody deserves to be the first to do it as a Yankee, it’s him. Not knowing the Babe personally, of course,” he said. “He really epitomizes what it means to be a Yankee, I would think.”

A few hours before gametime, Jeter was asked what advice he’d gotten about trying to reach the hallowed mark

“Hurry up,” he said, smiling.

The 37-year-old captain said a couple of teammates mentioned the milestone as the day progressed, but not too many.

“Maybe they don’t want to jinx anything,” he said.

Jeter’s mom and dad were in the crowd of 47,787 cheering when he came up in the first inning. The fans stood and chanted each time he batted after that, and many streamed toward the aisles after he grounded out to end the seventh.

His last grounder finished off the Yankees‘ fourth loss in five games, dropping them below Boston and out of the AL East lead.

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