Alex Cobb attempts to win his third straight game since being activated from the disabled list as the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees close out their three-game series at Tropicana Field on Sunday afternoon.
Cobb, who missed two months of action after a line drive struck him in the head on June 15, has returned with back-to-back wins. He most recently defeated the Orioles on Aug. 20, allowing one earned run over six innings of work while striking out five.
The 25-year-old right-hander's return to the starting rotation has been a huge boost for the Rays. He's now 8-2 on the season with a 2.85 ERA, striking out 87 batters in 94 2/3 innings.
Cobb has been masterful against the Yankees in 2013, going 2-0 in two starts while allowing just two earned runs in 16 2/3 innings (1.08 ERA).
Cobb's counterpart will be Ivan Nova, who's in the midst of a strong campaign himself with a 7-4 record. His 3.17 ERA this season is nearly a full run lower than his career mark of 4.14.
After losing back-to-back games to close out July, Nova has righted the ship in August by winning three of his four starts. He wasn't his sharpest on Aug. 20 against the Blue Jays, surrendering four runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings, but it was enough to earn the victory.
The Rays will try for the sweep on Sunday afternoon after taking care of the Yankees in Saturday's contest, 4-2.
After finding itself down 2-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning, Tampa Bay pieced together a three-run inning behind a two-run double off the bat of Ben Zobrist and an RBI single from Evan Longoria. Longoria would add his 27th home run in the eighth.
David Price (8-5) managed to outduel CC Sabathia in a showdown between veteran aces, allowing two earned runs in six innings while striking out five. Fernando Rodney pitched a perfect ninth for his 30th save.
"Whenever you're pitching against a guy like CC, you give up three runs and you're going to lose," Price said. "That's what happened. It was the first guy to give up that third run was going to get that loss."
Sabathia (11-11) was the hard-luck loser, having pitched six scoreless innings to start before yielding three runs in the seventh.
"It's frustrating," said Sabathia, who's on track to finish the season with a career-worst ERA (4.81). "One big inning. I just feel like I can't stop the bleeding."
Austin Romine drew a bases-loaded walk and Ichiro Suzuki had an RBI groundout to account for the Yankees' two runs. Mark Reynolds had the team's lone multi- hit game, going 2-for-3.
The win allowed the Rays to keep pace with the Red Sox in a virtual tie atop the American League East standings, while the Yankees are now seven games back.
Tampa Bay is 9-6 this season against the Yankees, having won five of the last six meetings.