Bronx, NY – Raul Ibanez hit two home runs, Ivan Nova threw seven solid innings and David Robertson anxiously closed out the Yankees' 5-3 win over the Rays in a rain-soaked series opener between the division foes.
Nova (4-1) allowed two runs on six hits while walking two and striking out eight for New York, which had lost seven straight to its AL East rival dating back to last season.
Curtis Granderson also homered off Rays starter James Shields (5-1), who had his five-start win streak snapped as he surrendered three runs on four hits and three walks over six frames.
Jose Molina and Luke Scott both hit solo homers in the loss, Tampa Bay's third straight.
"They hit some homers tonight, their guy Nova really pitched well...it was a well played game and they got us tonight," Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
The Rays loaded the bases against Robertson in the ninth, but the Yankees' new closer in the wake of the injury to Mariano Rivera caught Carlos Pena looking at strike three to pick up his fourth career save.
"I think it's important for him, he looked comfortable...He threw strikes and that's the most important thing," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi of Robertson.
Ibanez crushed a two-run homer off Shields in the fourth, and an inning later Granderson added a solo shot -- on the 10th pitch of his at-bat -- for a 3-0 lead.
Molina opened the sixth with his second home run of the season, and Scott cut the deficit to 3-2 with another round-tripper in the seventh.
Nova gave up a walk and a double following Scott's blast, but maintained the lead by getting Sean Rodriguez on a flyout to shallow right and striking out Molina on three pitches.
Ibanez greeted Burke Badenhop in the seventh with another longball, proving to be the game-winner.
The Rays pulled within 4-3 in the eighth when Ben Zobrist led off with a triple and raced home on a wild pitch by Rafael Soriano, but the Yankees got the run back in the bottom half.
B.J. Upton misplayed a line drive to center field, allowing Alex Rodriguez to reach second base, and Mark Teixeira doubled down the right-field line to knock in the insurance run.
Ibanez has 15 career multi-home run games...Nova is 3-0 in five career starts against the Rays...Robertson has not allowed a run in his last 26 1/3 regular season innings pitcher dating to September 1, 2011...Shields, who fell to 5-12 in his career against the Yankees, was trying to tie Scott Kazmir's team record of six straight wins set in 2008...The middle test of this three-game series pits Tampa Bay's Jeff Niemann against fellow righty David Phelps.