Yankees, Nova open set vs. streaking Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays got themselves back into the American game leading New York Yankees.

The Rays enter this set two games back of the Red Sox in the wild card race after being nine out as late as September 2. Tampa is also seven games back of the division-leading Yankees, but play seven of their final 10 games against them.

The Rays, though, helped themselves immensely this weekend, taking three of four from the reeling Red Sox.

"I thought we played good baseball," Tampa manager Joe Maddon said after his team's 8-5 win on Sunday. "We played well. We pitched well. We caught the ball. We ran the bases well. We had good at-bats when we needed them. There was a real strong sense of camaraderie among the group. All that stuff was there. So I thought we just played really good baseball in a great venue against a very good ballclub in a very meaningful time of the year. I'm very proud of our guys."

No team at least nine games out of a playoff spot through Sept. 2 has ever reached the postseason.

It won't be easy for them tonight, as they go up against right-hander Ivan Nova, who hasn't lost since June 3 and is 11-0 with a 3.35 ERA in his last 14 starts. Nova did not get a decision on Wednesday in Seattle, as he allowed a run and five hits in 7 1/3 innings.

Still, Nova, who is 15-4 on the season with a 3.81 ERA, is unbeaten in his last 11 decisions and should he win today he would become the first Yankees rookie since Atley Donald in 1939 to win 12 in a row.

Nova beat the Rays the last time he squared off with them and is 1-0 in three starts against them with a 5.17 ERA.

He will be opposed by righty Wade Davis, who is 10-9 with a 4.41 ERA. Davis was defeated by Baltimore on Wednesday, as he allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 frames.

Davis has faced the Yankees five times and is 2-2 with a 3.81 ERA against them.

Davis will be facing a Yankees team that witnessed some history on Monday, as Mariano Rivera became the all-time saves leader in New York's 6-4 win over Minnesota.

"It feels great. I wasn't expecting this but thank God it happened. Thank God its over too," said Rivera. "I cant describe that feeling. It was priceless. I didn't think it could feel like that."

Rivera induced a Trevor Plouffe groundout, a Michael Cuddyer flyout and caught Chris Parmelee looking with a back-door cutter in the ninth to earn the 602nd save of his career, surpassing the mark set by Trevor Hoffman.

"It's a number that I really don't think we'll see someone surpass in our lifetime," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about the record. "It's hard to fathom, but people came to the stadium today and got a treat."

Curtis Granderson belted his 41st home run in the win for the Yankees, who lead the AL East by five games over the Red Sox.

The Yanks have won six of their 11 meetings with the Rays this season.