NEW YORK -- The intimidating guitar riffs of "Enter Sandman" were gone, along with the aura of invincibility Mariano Rivera brought with him on his placid jog in from the bullpen.

Instead David Robertson entered the game in the ninth inning of the New York Yankees' 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night to his own music. The more jovial "Sweet Home Alabama" tune befitting the fresh-faced 27-year-old Alabama native entrusted to secure the New York Yankees' two-run lead and, for the most part, succeed the Yankees' injured icon of a closer.

Robertson had retired 10 of his last 11 batters and not allowed a run all season. But those recent exploits -- along with his 2009 postseason performance, All-Star status last year and all the success of his young career -- were not enough to overcome the pressure of trying to replace the game's all-time saves leader.

"Throw strikes," Robertson later said he told himself as he took the mound, trying to treat this like any other game, "get out of it quickly, and get into the clubhouse."

But this wasn't any other game. So another thought hit Robertson.

"'Geez, better not blow your first one,'" Robertson said he thought. "'Better not blow my first opportunity or Mo might come in here and smack me around.'"

There would be no need for Rivera, out for the year with a torn ACL in his right knee, to chastise his young replacement. Robertson lived up to his "Houdini" nickname by loading the bases, but escaping the jam by striking out Carlos Pena looking, to end the game.

He earned his first save of the season and sent the Rays to their third straight loss while securing Ivan Nova's fourth win of the year.

However, he still recognized he might not have been as efficient as the man he replaced.

"What I think is Mo probably would have thrown 12 pitches, broken a bat and we would have been gone 20 minutes ago," a smiling, relieved Robertson said after the game.

The Yankees won their second in a row on the day general manager Brian Cashman said he expected Rivera back next season, but not this one. They were helped by Raul Ibanez's two home runs, Curtis Granderson's 10th homer of the season and a RBI double by Mark Teixeira that provided a big insurance run.

Nova shook off back-to-back bad outings with seven innings of two-run, six-hit ball, escaping a couple of his own jams.

The Rays got home runs from Luke Scott and Jose Molina and pulled close a couple of times before Robertson finally shut the door for good. James Shields (5-1) lost his first game of the season, after allowing three runs on four hits in six innings.

"Yeah, those add-ons by them were really bad," Rays manager Joe Maddon said of the Yankees' insurance runs. "... They hit some homers tonight. ... It was a well-played game. They got us tonight."


After a one-out walk to Will Rhymes and a single by Sean Rodriguez, Robertson struck out pinch-hitter Brandon Allen, but walked Ben Zobrist to load the bases.

Robertson then struck out Pena and threw his arms up in relief.

"I think it was important for him. He looked comfortable," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Robertson, adding he would get most of the closing opportunities.