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Ivan Nova, Bobby Wilson lead Yankees past Rays

Nova goes four scoreless in Bombers' 3-1 win
03/12/2013 3:50 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Bobby Wilson's two-run single in the eighth was the difference on Tuesday.(AP)
Ivan Nova pitched four scoreless innings and catcher Bobby Wilson played offensive star for the Yankees on Tuesday, with Wilson's two-run single in the eighth pushing the Bombers past the Rays, 3-1, in Port Charlotte, Fla.

The game was a pitching duel through seven innings, as Nova and Rays starter Alex Cobb matched zeroes in the first half before the bullpens took over. Cobb struck out six in his five innings and held the Yankees to just two hits, while Nova allowed four hits in his four frames and, with a little help from his battery mate, escaped a major jam in the fourth.

The Rays opened that inning with back to back singles, but after Nova got Ryan Roberts to line out to third, catcher Francisco Cervelli gunned down Tampa’s Leslie Anderson trying to steal second. He then made a nice block of a ball in the dirt as Sean Rodriguez swung through strike three, throwing down to first to complete the strikeout and get the Yankees out of the inning.

Brett Marshall, who was optioned to Triple-A on Monday but still made the trip, would then match zeroes with Cobb and two Rays relievers in the fifth through seventh innings before the Bombers finally broke through against Dane De La Rosa in the eighth.

Francisco Cervelli opened the inning with a single, and after Melky Mesa flied out, Thomas Neal, who finished 2-for-3 to be the lone Yankee with multiple hits, singled to put runners on the corners. Slade Heathcott was next, and De La Rosa coaxed a ground ball off his bat, but an error by Rays shortstop Hak-Ju Lee turned what could have been a double play into the Yankees’ first run. Wilson then followed with a two-run single, making it 3-0, but was thrown out trying to stretch it into a double.

The Yankees tried to mount a two-out rally after that thanks to back-to-back singles by Gil Velazquez and Ronnier Mustelier both singled off de la Rosa, but the righty struck out Travis Hafner looking to end the threat.

Marshall would run into some trouble of his own in the eighth that led to the Rays lone run, as he walked ex-Yankee Shelley Duncan before a Ronnier Mustelier error allowed Lee to reach and Duncan to advance to second. After Robinson Chrinos grounded into a 6-4 fielder’s choice, Mike Fontenot got the Rays on the board with a sac fly that scored Duncan, ending the Yankees staff’s scoreless innings streak at 26.

Jason Bourgeois would single with two outs to chase Marshall, but lefty Josh Spence came in and got Anderson to end the inning, and fellow southpaw Matt Tracy worked around a leadoff double in the ninth to close out the victory.

With their third straight win, the Yankees improve to 6-11 on the Grapefruit League schedule, and will now have a somewhat extended rest before their next game; the team returns home to Tampa Wednesday, and will they battle the Phillies under the lights at Steinbrenner Field in a game you can see live on YES at 7 p.m.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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