• Box score
Sabathia also permitted a second-inning RBI single to Kevin Kiermaier, but limited the damage, holding the Rays to two runs and six hits over five innings.
"You want to have good starts, obviously. But it's March," Sabathia said. "I keep saying, I can't put too much stock in it. I felt good and I've been feeling good. It's a lot better than I felt at this point last year. I can't complain about anything."
Sabathia walked one and struck out four, throwing 44 of 68 pitches for strikes. He owns a 5.84 ERA in 12 1/3 spring innings; Nova has compiled a 4.05 ERA in 13 1/3 spring innings and will start on Friday against the Orioles in Sarasota.
"I think it was important -- important for him, important for us -- to build off of and to get his stuff going," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Sabathia. "He needed to throw well, and he did."
Carlos Beltran contributed a run-scoring single in the second inning off Rays starter Matt Andriese, who scattered four hits with a strikeout. Andriese threw 30 of 39 pitches for strikes.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said Enny Romero caught his eye, striking out Beltran, Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius over 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
"Enny Romero continues to just be very impressive, very impressive," Cash said. "We stuck him in there to face some meat in their lineup and he did a nice job."
Up next for the Rays: Tampa Bay will send left-hander Drew Smyly to the mound Friday at 1:05 p.m. ET against the Twins at Charlotte Sports Park (listen to an exclusive webcast). He has allowed one run, five hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts in 10 innings this spring.
Up next for the Yankees: Nova will make his fifth spring start on Friday as he continues fighting for the No. 5 spot in the Yankees' rotation, taking the mound against the Orioles for a 1:05 p.m. start at Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota. Watch the game on MLB.TV.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.