NEW YORK — Chris Archer popped out of the dugout for the bottom of the ninth inning and allowed himself to take a quick peek at left field. Yep, he saw relievers Fernando Rodney and Joel Peralta warming up.
Nope, he didn’t care.
‘‘I was feeling confident we wouldn’t have to go the bullpen,’’ the rookie said.
Boy, was he right. Archer threw a two-hitter for his second shutout in three starts, outpitching Ivan Nova and leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 1-0 victory over the Yankees Saturday in New York.
Kelly Johnson had an RBI single off Nova (4-4) in the sixth to help the AL East-leading Rays improve to 24-5 since June 23, when they were in last place.
Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon said before the game Archer (6-3) embraces the big moments, and he sure did once again at Yankee Stadium.
The 24-year-old righthander with a Captain America lunch box in his locker never threw more than 14 pitches in an inning and needed just 97 overall — 67 for strikes — for his second career complete game.
Even more impressive: Archer became the first visiting rookie to toss a complete-game shutout in the Bronx since Arthur Rhodes in 1992.
Archer gave up a single to Lyle Overbay with one out in the fifth and a ground-rule double to Brett Gardner in the sixth for New York’s only hits in its sixth loss in nine games since the All-Star break.
‘‘I don’t feel helpless,’’ Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. ‘‘I still believe in these guys. I see how they go about their business.’’
Archer did not walk a batter and struck out six. After catching Ichiro Suzuki’s comebacker and tossing to first for the final out, Tampa Bay’s starters met in front of the mound for what is becoming a common occurrence: the starting five’s group chest bump reserved for complete-game victories.
Archer’s beauty was the team’s third in six games this week. It was also the Rays’ sixth shutout in July, a club record.
‘‘To follow the other starters in the bunch makes it easier for me,’’ Archer said.
Acquired from the Chicago Cubs before the 2011 season in a deal for Matt Garza, Archer enjoyed his best month as a major leaguer. He shut out Houston with a five-hitter on July 14 and his ERA for July is 0.73, an AL record for rookies. The Angels’ Bob Lee had an 0.76 ERA in 1964.
Archer outpitched Nova in the Bronx for the second time this season. Last month, Archer won by holding the Yankees to one run over six innings.
‘‘That’s like a classic, old mid-’60s kind of pitchers’ duel at Yankee Stadium,’’ Maddon said of Saturday’s matchup. ‘‘It was incredible to watch.’’