Yankees turn to Nova in opener with Braves
(Sports Network) - Ivan Nova has been bailed out a few times this season by his offense, but he made sure to do his part in his last trip to the hill.
Following perhaps his best outing of the season, Nova looks to pick up a fourth straight victory as the New York Yankees visit the Atlanta Braves for the opener of a three-game series.
Nova is 7-2 through 11 starts this season despite an unsightly 5.09 earned run average. He had given up eight runs over 13 2/3 innings in the first two outings of his current winning streak before pitching a gem on Wednesday versus the Rays.
The right-hander hurled eight-plus innings of one-run ball, scattering four hits and a walk in a 4-1 victory. Nova carried a shutout into the ninth before allowing back-to-back triples to end his outing. He also recorded 22 outs on 23 batters faced between a leadoff single in the first and an eighth-inning double with one out.
"He pitched in very effectively," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Nova. "He was ahead in the count it seemed like a lot of the night and he allowed his defense to do some work."
Nova also pushed his road winning streak to 13 straight games, going 10-0 with a 3.61 ERA. The 25-year-old faces the Braves for the first time and is 2-1 with a 3.98 ERA in five career interleague starts.
Nova will get a chance to pitch the Yankees into first place tonight as they sit a half-game behind the idle Rays in the American League East thanks to victories in six of seven and 13 of their past 17 games. The Yankees finished off a three-game sweep of the rival Mets with Sunday's 5-4 win.
Russell Martin's second homer of the game came in the bottom of the ninth inning, helping the Yankees rebound after Rafael Soriano blew his first save chance of the season in the top of the frame. Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez add run-scoring hits, with Rodriguez snapping a tie with Hall of Famer Eddie Murray for solo possession of seventh place on baseball's all-time list.
The Yanks also appeared to avoid a big injury after starter Andy Pettitte snared a comebacker off the bat of Scott Hairston with his bare left hand in the sixth. That marked the final inning for Pettitte, who allowed three runs -- two earned -- in a no-decision. He expects to be fine for his next start.
"No I'm good, it's swollen and as soon as the swelling gets out it will be fine," said Pettitte. "It got me right up high near the fingers. It was just hard to throw because I really couldn't feel the ball."
New York moved a season-high nine games over .500 (34-25) and will look to prevent Atlanta's Randall Delgado from winning a third straight start tonight.
The 22-year-old snapped an 0-5 drought with a win on May 29, his first since April 17, and then made it two in a row on Wednesday in Miami. Delgado was outstanding on the mound, allowing a run on two hits and a walk over 6 1/3 frames while striking out a career-high seven. He was perfect through four innings and improved to 4-5 with a 4.26 ERA through 11 starts this season.
Delgado, a right-hander, will face the Yankees for the first time in what is set to be his 19th big league start.
The Braves seemed on their way to a seventh straight victory on Sunday versus the Blue Jays, plating four runs over the game's first three innings. However, Toronto responded with a season-high 18 hits and handed Atlanta a 12-4 setback.
Livan Hernandez absorbed the loss after allowing five runs on seven hits in 1 2/3 innings. Starter Julio Teheran allowed four runs on four hits and a walk with five strikeouts in 4 1/3 frames.
"You spend so much energy to get to those six or seven game winning streaks," Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "There's going to be some nights where some guys aren't available to pitch or to play."
Freddie Freemen went 3-for-5 with an RBI and David Ross had an RBI single for the Braves, who had won eight of nine since dropping eight in a row.
Atlanta sits two games behind Washington for first place in the NL East.
The Braves and Yankees are meeting for the first time since New York won two of three in Atlanta back in 2009.