Ivan Nova was sharp in his return from a shoulder injury and the N.Y Yankees got back-to-back home runs from Curtis Granderson and Eduardo Nunez in a 5-3 triumph over the Rays.
Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez each had an RBI single for the N.Y Yankees, who began the day tied with Orioles on top of the American League East. The Baltimore were planned to play later in Oakland.
Evan Longoria homered for the 3rd-place Rays, who fell 4 games behind New York. One day after New York Yankees ace CC Sabathia lost his 3rd straight decision, Nova outpitched James Shields and gave New York’s rotation a nice boost.
David Robertson worked an ideal 8thand Rafael Soriano got 3 outs for his 39th save in 42 attempts.
With 2 on in the 9th, Soriano fanned pinch-hitter Elliot Johnson for the final out – assuring the Yankees (82-63) their 20th consecutive winning season. Baseball spreads
Nova (12-7) missed a bit more than 3 weeks with inflammation in his right rotator cuff. Making his 1st start since August 21, he was charged with 2 runs and 4 hits in 6-plus innings. He struck out 8 and walked two; improving to 5-1 in 8 career starts against Rays with his 2nd win overall since the All-Star break.
The 25-year-old right-hander was lifted after Jeff Keppinger’s leadoff single on his 85th pitch in the 7th. He pointed at the crowd, tapped his chest and doffed his cap as he walked off the field to a grateful ovation from the crowd of 46,856.
Joba Chamberlain gave up a 2-run single to pinch-hitter Luke Scott before striking out Desmond Jennings to save a 4-3 lead. Jennings whiffed 3 times in the leadoff spot.
Rodriguez added an RBI single in the 8th off Jake McGee after center fielder B.J. Upton misplayed Robinson Cano’s deep liner into a double. Before that, McGee had retired 22 consecutive batters, 13 on strikeouts.
Raul Ibanez drew a leadoff walk in the 2nd and Granderson sent his 39th homer into the lower seats in right field. Prior to that swing, Granderson was 6 for 56 (.107) against Shields.
Nunez, who made a key blunder at shortstop late in Friday night’s 6-4 loss to the Rays, followed with a long drive to left for his first big league homer since Sept. 21 last season – also off Shields. That made Nunez 7 for 14 with 2 home runs against the right-hander.
Coming off a 2-hit shutout Sunday against Rangers, Shields (14-9) allowed 4 runs and 6 hits in 6 1-3 innings. ”Big Game James” has been anything apart from that at Yankee Stadium, where he is 0-6 in his last 7 starts.
The right-hander was 6-1 with a 2.22 ERA in his previous 7 decisions.
Nova’s fine outing marked the latest of what the Yankees hope will be several late-season reinforcements.
Rodriguez came back Sept. 3 from a broken hand and Andy Pettitte is ready to pitch Tuesday against Toronto Blue Jays in his return from a broken ankle that’s sidelined him since June 28.