Ivan Nova tips his cap after he leaves the game in the ninth inning. Nova was at his best last night in the Yankees 4-1 victory over the Rays. (Image: Debby Wong-US PRESSWIRE)

Yankees sail past Rays in standings as Nova dazzles

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They are not quite to the top yet, but the New York Yankees have jumped the Tampa Bay Rays in the standings into second place. Ivan Nova was at his best this season in eight plus innings of work as the Yankees shut down the Rays for the second straight night by a score of 4-1.

Nova (7-2), who continues to rack up wins, did not receive the typical run support he’s become accustomed to, but a pair of solo homers from Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano proved to be enough. Nova worked eight shutout innings and came out for the ninth but allowed back-to-back triples by Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton to start the frame. He was pulled in favor of Yankees closer Rafael Soriano, who stranded Upton, getting three straight outs on thirteen pitches.

The Yankees were facing Rays starter Alex Cobb for just the second time in his career and he tried to hold his own against the Bombers. In the second inning with one-out, Cobb hung a curve to Teixeira who deposited it into the second deck in right field. It was Tex’s 10th home run of the season and his 33rd RBI. The homer was Teixeira’s first since May 29th as he is sitting in a 4-for-26 slump over the last seven games, after a surge on the West Coast trip.

In the home half of the fourth, Robinson Cano came to the plate with two outs after Curtis Granderson flew out and Alex Rodriguez was picked off of first base by Rays catcher Jose Molina. Cano hit a laser beam into the right field bleachers on a pitch Cobb left up and over the plate. It was Cano’s ninth home run of the season to go with 25 RBI.

Nova, was in complete control after allowing a leadoff single to Jennings in the first. He set down 14 of 15 batters from the fifth inning through the eighth, including twelve straight. He finished the night allowing one run on four hits and one walk while striking out five.

The Yankees would get two insurance runs in the eighth off of Cobb, who was also stingy after Cano’s homer. Raul Ibanez led off the inning with a single and manager Joe Girardi sent in speedy Dewayne Wise to run for Ibanez. Nick Swisher doubled down the right field line past a diving Carlos Pena at first. The ball rolled all the way to the right field corner allowing Wise to score easily. Eric Chavez was next and with the elusive man in scoring position, delivered a double to the center field gap bringing home Swisher. Chavez would be stranded at second, but the Yankees held a 4-0 lead.

Nova who was trying for his first career shutout would have to settle for his 24th victory in 49 games (45 starts). Soriano notched his eighth straight save bailing the Yankees out of trouble in the ninth. The win is the Yankees 10th out of their last 13 games and positioned them in second place, 1/2 game back of the Baltimore Orioles and 1/2 game ahead of the Rays. CC Sabathia faces David Price in tonight’s series finale.

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Tags: Alex Cobb Alex Rodriguez B.J. Upton Baltimore Orioles Carlos Pena CC Sabathia Curtis Granderson David Price Desmond Jennings Dewayne Wise Eric Chavez Ivan Nova Joe Girardi Mark Teixeira New York Yankees Nick Swisher Rafael Soriano Raul Ibanez Robinson Cano Yankees

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