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Nova dominates Rays; Yanks in second

CBSSports.com wire reports
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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.

Nova took a two-hitter into the ninth inning, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano hit home runs and the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the second successive night, 4-1 on Wednesday.

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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.

Nova (7-2) pitched into the ninth for the first time in 45 career starts but he gave up consecutive triples to Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton to start the inning.

"He was just dialed in tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Nova was lifted to a loud ovation and Rafael Soriano relieved. Soriano got three outs for his eighth save in eight chances, all since Mariano Rivera went out with a knee injury.

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."

CC Sabathia has a chance to lead the Yankees to a three-game sweep Thursday. He faces Rays ace David Price in the seventh matchup between the lefties.

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.

Notes

  • Super Bowl champion New York Giants WR Victor Cruz received a robust ovation when interviewed on the video board after the seventh inning.
  • The Rays activated first baseman-outfielder Brandon Allen from the 15-day disabled list and designated him for assignment. Allen went on the DL on May 10 because of a strained right quadriceps. The Rays claimed Allen off waivers from Oakland on April 19 and he batted .100 (2 for 20) with a home run and three RBI in limited action.
  • Yankees RHP David Robertson (oblique strain) could start a rehab assignemnt this weekend.
  • The Yankees drafted RHP Jose Mesa Jr., son of former big leaguer Jose Mesa in the 24th round from Charles Flanagan HS (Fla.).
 
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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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)
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
New York

I. Nova
IP 8.0
H 4
ER 1
BB 1
K 5
Tampa Bay

D. Jennings
AB 4
R 1
H 2
HR 0
RBI 0
 
Tampa Bay Rays
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Desmond Jennings, LF4120011 .273
B.J. Upton, CF4011021 .275
Matt Joyce, RF3000102 .284
Ben Zobrist, 2B4000011 .199
Hideki Matsui, DH4000002 .125
Carlos Pena, 1B3000010 .200
Sean Rodriguez, SS3010000 .229
Jose Molina, C3000011 .183
Will Rhymes, 3B2000001 .265
Totals3014116  
Batting
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
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Alex Cobb (L,2-2) 7544142 4.13
Burke Badenhop 0.2000000 3.70
J.P. Howell 0.1000000 3.71
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
HittersABRHRBIBBSOLOBAVG
Derek Jeter, SS4000001 .323
Curtis Granderson, CF4000001 .255
Alex Rodriguez, DH2000110 .276
Robinson Cano, 2B3111000 .290
Mark Teixeira, 1B3111010 .249
Raul Ibanez, LF3010000 .250
    Dewayne Wise, PR-LF0100000 .130
Nick Swisher, RF3111010 .250
Eric Chavez, 3B3011000 .279
Russell Martin, C3000011 .206
Totals2845414  
Batting
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
Fielding
DP - Cano-Jeter-Teixeira
New York Yankees
PitchersIPHRERBBSOHRERA
Ivan Nova (W,7-2) 8411150 5.09
Rafael Soriano (S,8) 1000010 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
Game Information
Attendance - 38370
Game Time - 2:33
Temperature - 68
Umpires - Home - Al Porter, First Base - Paul Nauert, Second Base - Doug Eddings, Third Base - Dana DeMuth