By HOWIE RUMBERG AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Ivan Nova took a two-hitter into the ninth
inning, Mark Teixiera and Robinson Cano homered and the New York
Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the second straight night, 4-1
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
pass 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 at least holding 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
homer with one out in the fourth until Sean Rodriguez doubled with
one out in the top of the eighth _ 20 straight 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 lifted to a loud ovation and Rafael Soriano relieved. He
got three outs for his eighth save in eight chances, all since
Mariano Rivera went out with a knee injury.
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
The 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 Andy Pettitte for 7 1-3 innings
Tuesday and four overall, the Rays looked equally as lost against
Nova _ getting a leadoff single then not getting a hit until the
The Yankees right-hander had allowed five runs in three of his
last four starts but he had better command of his fastball this
time and had one of his most dominant starts.
He gave up four hits and a walk while improving to 4-0 against
the Rays in his career.
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 homer.
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
April 19 and he batted .100 (2 for 20) with a homer and three RBIs
in limited action. … Yankees RHP David Robertson (oblique strain)
could start a rehab assignemnt this weekend. … In the series
finale Tampa Bays’ David Price (7-3) and the Yankees’ CC Sabathia
(7-2) matchup for the seventh time in their careers. The Rays won
the first five but the Yankees won on May 10 with Sabathia on the
mound. … The Yankees drafted RHP Jose Mesa Jr., son of former big
leaguer Jose Mesa in the 24th round from Charles Flanagan HS
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)