NEW YORK -- Chris Archer paused to come up with a way to describe pitching his second complete career complete game shutout and the answer he came up is an apt way to describe how the Tampa Bay Rays are playing.
"Stupendously amazing," Archer said. "To follow the other stallions in the bunch kind of makes it a little bit easier for me because they do such a great job of being efficient."
Archer helped the Rays continue their impressive surge by firing a 97-pitch two-hitter in a 1-0 victory over the New York Yankees Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
The Rays improved to 21-3 in their last 24 games and recorded their 13th shutout of the season. Six of those shutouts have been during this month, which sets a club record.
"Our team is just rolling right now," Archer said. "It's fun to be out there, it's the most fun I've ever had playing baseball at any level."
Archer became the first rookie to earn a 1-0 shutout against the Yankees since Teddy Higuera did it on Oct. 2, 1985, for the Milwaukee Brewers. He also became the first rookie to throw a complete game shutout against the Yankees in New York since Arthur Rhodes achieved it for Baltimore on July 29, 1992.
"He just kept going," Tampa bay manager Joe Maddon said. "His composure never broke and his focus was great."
Archer pitched his second complete game shutout in as many starts. He had a 112-pitch five-hitter against Houston on July 14 but this time was more efficient, averaging 3.3 pitches per hitter and reaching two three-ball counts.
He followed the advice of Curt Schilling, who told him during last week's series in Boston that he should try to throw every pitch with a purpose and didn't panic on the times which he fell behind hitters.
"Three or four pitches I was able to get most of guys out because I was trying to throw everything around the plate or at least with the intention of getting a result," Archer said.
The 24-year-old right-hander beat the Yankees for the second time this season. He allowed one run and six hits in six innings throwing 92 pitches in a 3-1 win.
This time was sharper.
"We knew he's good but to do what he's doing now is a little bit more than that," Maddon said. "That was a complete shutout under 100 pitches against a good team. His confidence is obviously way up there and he's really taking this to another level."
Archer retired the first 10 Yankees before Ichiro Suzuki reached on an error by third baseman Evan Longoria. He took a no-hitter bid into the fifth before allowing a Lyle Overbay one-out single on a changeup.
The other hit Archer gave up was a ground-rule double to Brett Gardner with two outs in the sixth. After that he retired the final 10 hitters, ending his performance with a full-count strikeout to Gardner and by fielding a soft comebacker by Suzuki.
Archer completed his gem even as Tampa Bay began warming up closer Fernando Rodney if things became dicey. Archer was confident he would follow the lead of David Price's 93-pitch complete game Wednesday in Boston.
"Going into the ninth inning, I was fully confident that we weren't going to have to go to the bullpen because this was the best I ever felt," Archer said.
The Rays scored their only run on Kelly Johnson's bloop single in the sixth against Yankee starter Ivan Nova, who fell to 4-4. Tampa Bay had eight hits but stranded 10 and went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position, reminding Maddon of one of those 1960s 1-0 pitcher's duels.
New York was blanked for the ninth time this season while losing for the 11th time in 17 games since starting July with a six-game winning streak.
The Yankees are a season-high eight games out of first place in the AL East and their nine shutouts equal the most since 1997.
"We have to win games," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "If we're going to get back in this race, we're going to have to win games and we're going to have to start tomorrow."
Nova allowed one run and six hits over seven innings, while pitching on the losing end of a Yankee shutout for the second consecutive start.
NOTES: After the game the Yankees announced the details of SS Derek Jeter's simulated game. The simulated game took place in Staten Island, where the team has a minor league affiliate in the short-season New York Penn League. Jeter had eight at-bats, ran from first to third, second to home and also fielded ground balls. The Yankees said that Jeter told them he feels good and if he says it again Sunday morning he will be activated from the DL and play shortstop after missing two weeks with a right quad injury. ... New York DH Travis Hafner is headed to the DL after an MRI revealed a strained right rotator cuff in his shoulder. Hafner has two hits in his last 29 at-bats and complained of shoulder soreness after his final at-bat Friday. ... Tampa Bay OF Luke Scott was held out of the game with soreness that was believed to be in the shoulder or back area. ... Longoria batted second for the third time this season.