NEW YORK (Reuters) - The New York Yankees combined the strong pitching of Ivan Nova with some home run power to beat the visiting Tampa Bay Rays 4-1 on Wednesday and jump past their American League East rivals into second place in the division.
Nova checked the Rays on two hits through eight shutout innings before Tampa knocked him out in the ninth with back-to-back triples by Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton.
Reliever Rafael Soriano came on to retire Matt Joyce, Ben Zobrist and Hideki Matsui, ending the threat and notching his eighth save.
Nova improved to 7-2, striking out five and issuing just one walk in a dominant performance backed by home runs from Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano.
"I felt really good from the bullpen," Nova said about taking the mound with his best stuff. "Everything was working really fine."
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon tipped his cap to Nova.
"He had command of his breaking stuff, he pitched well," he said. "He was very good. We just couldn't get guys on base to try and rattle him."
Rays rookie right-handed starter Alex Cobb dropped to 2-2.
Teixeira opened the scoring with a solo home run in the second inning off Cobb for his 10th roundtripper of the season.
"He left a pitch up in the zone, a breaking ball and I put a good swing on it," said Teixeira, whose blast was matched in the fourth inning by Cano.
The victory lifted the Yankees to 31-24 and pushed them one-half game ahead of the Rays (31-25) in the standings and one-half game behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles (32-24).
Yankee first baseman Teixeira said he thought an early lead might stand up since Nova was throwing so well.
"You could tell they weren't taking good swings," he said. "His slider was incredible and he kept his fastball down and away. He was great tonight."