NEW YORK -- Frustrated with the way he had been pitching, Ivan Nova took it upon himself to figure things out after his start in Anaheim.
Boy, did he know what he was doing.
Nova took a two-hitter into the ninth inning, Mark Teixiera and Robinson Cano homered and the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays for the second straight night, 4-1, Wednesday.
"Tonight was a really, really good day for me," Nova said.
Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez had RBI doubles in the eighth inning to help the Yankees win for the 10th time in 13 games and passed Tampa Bay in the tight AL East standings for the first time since April 23.
Tampa Bay lost for the sixth time in eight games and dropped to third place after holding at least a share of the division lead since May 27.
Nova and Alex Cobb locked in a duel until Cobb (2-2) tired in the eighth. The pair combined to keep the bases clear after Cano's homer with one out in the fourth until Sean Rodriguez doubled with one out in the top of the eighth -- 20 straight batters.
Nova (7-2) pitched into the ninth for the first time in 45 career starts but he gave up consecutive triples to Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton to start the inning.
"He was just dialed in tonight," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Nova was lifted to a loud ovation and Rafael Soriano relieved. Soriano got three outs for his eighth save in eight chances, all since Mariano Rivera went out with a knee injury.
Nova followed stellar outings by Phil Hughes and Andy Pettitte. The three combined to toss 22 scoreless innings beginning with the fifth inning Sunday in Detroit and continuing until the Rays scored in the ninth. Nova did not want to be the starter that faltered.
"Especially when everybody's pitching good, I don't want to be the guy behind," Nova said. "I want to be with those guys pitching good."
Nova gave up four hits, a walk and hitting one batter while improving to 4-0 against the Rays in his career.
CC Sabathia has a chance to lead the Yankees to a three-game sweep today. He faces Rays ace David Price in the seventh matchup between the lefties.