Bronx, NY – Ivan Nova had been the benefactor of great run support over his first 10 starts this season.
He took matters into his own hands on Wednesday night in the Bronx.
Nova pitched eight-plus solid frames in New York's 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium.
The young right-hander's record had been aided by the Yankee bats, but he needed little help in this game. Nova (7-2) yielded just one run on four hits and one walk while striking out five. He entered the ninth with his first career shutout in sight, but back-to-back triples ended his night. Rafael Soriano stabilized the situation, retiring all three batters he faced, finishing with former Yankee Hideki Matsui to cap off his eighth save.
"He pitched in very effectively," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Nova. "He was ahead in the count it seemed like a lot of the night and he allowed his defense to do some work."
Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira hit solo home runs for the Yankees, who have won three straight and five of six.
Alex Cobb (2-2) pitched well before tiring in the eighth, giving up four runs on five hits with four strikeouts and one walk over seven-plus frames. Desmond Jennings finished with two hits in the loss, Tampa's third in four games.
"I don't think anyone in here is really pressing. It is a long year," Rays outfielder B.J. Upton said.
The Yankees jumped on a pair of Cobb mistakes to back a nearly perfect first four frames from Nova. Teixeira crushed a Cobb offering into the second deck in right field during the second then, just after Alex Rodriguez was picked off first base, Cano had just enough muster on his line drive to right-center field that found the first row of seats.
The game was cruising along until the eighth, when Cobb ran out of gas and the Yankees jumped on pitches up in the zone. Raul Ibanez singled to right in front of Nick Swisher's two-bag gapper to right that plated pinch-runner Dewayne Wise. Eric Chavez followed with another double that scored Swisher and chased the Rays starter.
Jennings and Upton clubbed back-to-back triples to put the Rays on the scoreboard in the ninth. Jennings' line drive gapper allowed him to utilize his speed, while Upton barely missed a two-run home run as his fly ball caromed off the wall in right. Soriano, however, retired down the next three batters to secure the win.
The Yankees have scored 28 runs in their last five games...New York now sits alone in second place, one-half game behind Baltimore...The teams have split eight meetings this season...Nova has won three straight starts and improved to 4-0 lifetime against the Rays.