|Tampa Bay (31-25)||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||1||4||0|
|N.Y. Yankees (31-24) «||0||1||0||1||0||0||0||2||x||4||5||0|
NEW YORK -- Frustrated with the way he had been pitching, Ivan Nova took it upon himself to figure things out after his start in Anaheim.
Boy, did he know what he was doing.
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"Tonight was a really, really good day for me," Nova said.
Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez had RBI doubles in the eighth inning to help the Yankees win for the 10th time in 13 games and passed Tampa Bay in the tight AL East standings for the first time since April 23.
Tampa Bay lost for the sixth time in eight games and dropped to third place after holding at least a share of the division lead since May 27.
Nova and Alex Cobb locked in a duel until Cobb (2-2) tired in the eighth. The pair combined to keep the bases clear after Cano's home run with one out in the fourth until Sean Rodriguez doubled with one out in the top of the eighth -- 20 consecutive batters.
"He was just dialed in tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Nova followed stellar outings by Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte. The three combined to toss 22 scoreless innings beginning with the fifth inning Sunday in Detroit and continuing until the Rays scored in the ninth. Nova did not want to be the starter that faltered.
"Especially when everybody's pitching good, I don't want to be the guy behind," Nova said. "I want to be with those guys pitching good."
Before the game Rays manager Joe Maddon said his team needs to play a complete game, fielding with some consistency after committing three errors in a 7-0 loss Tuesday night, hitting better and pitching up to their standards. They got two of the three right.
"A better game played on our part, even if we didn't win," Maddon said. "I thought we played better, we pitched better, we just did not hit."
The Rays lineup has struggled with Evan Longoria sidelined since May 1. Tampa Bay entered with a .221 average in the slugging third baseman's absence because of a partially torn left hamstring.
Mustering just two hits against Pettitte for 7 1/3 innings Tuesday and four overall, the Rays looked equally lost against Nova -- getting a leadoff single then not notching a hit until the eighth.
The Yankees right-hander had allowed five runs in three of his last four starts -- including against the Angels -- but he worked on a few things in the bullpen this week and had better command of his fastball this time, keeping his pitches down in the zone, and had one of his most dominant starts.
He gave up four hits, a walk and hitting one batter while improving to 4-0 against the Rays in his career.
"He just had his stuff today. He just had it," Upton said. "Cobb threw a good game, too."
Cobb had the Yankees off-balance with his oft-used changeup, making only the two costly mistakes until the eighth.
Teixeira hit a high fly into the second deck in right field in the second inning for his 10th home run.
Cano smashed a line drive into the seats in right-center in the fourth inning one pitch after Alex Rodriguez was caught too far off first. A-Rod, who walked, started for second thinking Cobb's pitch got past Jose Molina, but Molina was able to catch the ball with his bare hand when it bounced high behind him then make a quick throw to first as Rodriguez tumbled back into the base.
|Ivan Nova pitches into the ninth inning for the first time in his career, and helps the Yankees move ahead of the Rays. (US Presswire)|
|Players of the Game|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Desmond Jennings, LF||4||1||2||0||0||1||1||.273|
|B.J. Upton, CF||4||0||1||1||0||2||1||.275|
|Matt Joyce, RF||3||0||0||0||1||0||2||.284|
|Ben Zobrist, 2B||4||0||0||0||0||1||1||.199|
|Hideki Matsui, DH||4||0||0||0||0||0||2||.125|
|Carlos Pena, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||1||0||.200|
|Sean Rodriguez, SS||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.229|
|Jose Molina, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.183|
|Will Rhymes, 3B||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.265|
|2B - Sean Rodriguez (7, Nova)|
|3B - Desmond Jennings (3, Nova), B.J. Upton (1, Nova)|
|RBI - B.J. Upton (19)|
|Team LOB - 4|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|Alex Cobb (L,2-2)||7||5||4||4||1||4||2||4.13|
|Pitches-Strikes - Alex Cobb 105-68, Burke Badenhop 9-5, J.P. Howell 2-2|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Alex Cobb 11-5, Burke Badenhop 1-1, J.P. Howell 1-0|
|Batters Faced - Alex Cobb 26, Burke Badenhop 2, J.P. Howell 1|
|New York Yankees|
|Derek Jeter, SS||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.323|
|Curtis Granderson, CF||4||0||0||0||0||0||1||.255|
|Alex Rodriguez, DH||2||0||0||0||1||1||0||.276|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||3||1||1||1||0||0||0||.290|
|Mark Teixeira, 1B||3||1||1||1||0||1||0||.249|
|Raul Ibanez, LF||3||0||1||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Dewayne Wise, PR-LF||0||1||0||0||0||0||0||.130|
|Nick Swisher, RF||3||1||1||1||0||1||0||.250|
|Eric Chavez, 3B||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.279|
|Russell Martin, C||3||0||0||0||0||1||1||.206|
|2B - Nick Swisher (15, Cobb), Eric Chavez (6, Cobb)|
|HR - Robinson Cano (9, Cobb), Mark Teixeira (10, Cobb)|
|RBI - Robinson Cano (25), Mark Teixeira (33), Nick Swisher (35), Eric Chavez (7)|
|2-OUT RBI - Robinson Cano (8)|
|Team LOB - 1|
|DP - Cano-Jeter-Teixeira|
|New York Yankees|
|Ivan Nova (W,7-2)||8||4||1||1||1||5||0||5.09|
|Rafael Soriano (S,8)||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||1.80|
|HBP - Rhymes (by Ivan Nova)|
|WP - Ivan Nova (4)|
|Pitches-Strikes - Ivan Nova 103-69, Rafael Soriano 13-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Ivan Nova 12-6|
|Batters Faced - Ivan Nova 29, Rafael Soriano 3|
|Attendance - 38370|
|Game Time - 2:33|
|Temperature - 68|
|Umpires - Home - Al Porter, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Doug Eddings, Third Base - Dana DeMuth|