Nova returns to pitch Yankees to victory over Rays

Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez is all smiles after his second-inning home run off the Rays’ James Shields.
Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez is all smiles after his second-inning home run off the Rays’ James Shields.
Kathy kmonicek/associated press

Ivan Nova was sharp in his return from a shoulder injury and the Yankees got back-to-back home runs from Curtis Granderson and Eduardo Nunez in a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday in New York.

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez each had RBI singles for the Yankees, who began the day tied with Baltimore atop the AL East. Evan Longoria homered for the third-place Rays, who fell four games behind New York.

One day after Yankees ace CC Sabathia lost his third straight decision, Nova (12-7) outpitched James Shields and gave New York’s rotation a nice boost. David Robertson worked a perfect eighth and Rafael Soriano got three outs for his 39th save.

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With two on in the ninth, Soriano fanned pinch hitter Elliot Johnson for the final out — ensuring the Yankees (82-63) their 20th consecutive winning season.

Nova missed a little more than three weeks with inflammation in his right rotator cuff. The 25-year-old righthander was charged with two runs and four hits in six-plus innings. He struck out eight and walked two, improving to 5-1 in eight career starts against Tampa Bay.

Tigers 5, Indians 3 — Anibal Sanchez (3-5) took a no-hitter into the seventh inning as Detroit beat host Cleveland.

Carlos Santana ruined Sanchez’s no-hit bid with a two-out triple in the seventh, but Cleveland was officially eliminated from the playoff race after falling to 16-45 since the All-Star break. Starter Justin Masterson (11-14) took the loss.

Sanchez struck out seven over 6 innings as Detroit stayed one game behind the first-place White Sox in the AL Central with its fourth straight win.

White Sox 5, Twins 3 — Francisco Liriano took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, Paul Konerko homered and drove in three runs, and Chicago stayed on top of the AL Central with a victory in Minneapolis.

Liriano (6-11) was tremendous against his former team, allowing only a two-out homer in the seventh to Trevor Plouffe. He walked two, hit a batter, and struck out nine in seven innings. Twins starter Samuel Deduno (6-4) took the loss.

Royals 3, Angels 2 — Ernesto Frieri ruined a spectacular start by Zack Greinke, giving up two homers in the ninth as host Kansas City handed Los Angeles a stunning loss.

Frieri replaced Greinke with one out in the ninth after Alex Gordon singled. Billy Butler homered to center on Frieri’s first pitch. Three pitches later, Salvador Perez homered off the left-field pole.

Braves 5, Nationals 4 — Jeff Baker scored the go-ahead run in the eighth when reliever Ryan Mattheus hit Andrelton Simmons’s uniform with a bases-loaded pitch that helped host Atlanta beat Washington. Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman homered for the Braves.

Pirates 7, Cubs 6 — Andrew McCutchen homered and reached base four times as Pittsburgh snapped a seven-game losing streak with a win in Chicago. Wandy Rodriguez (11-13) allowed three runs — one earned — and is now 3-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his last four starts..

Marlins 6, Reds 4 — Carlos Lee homered and Mark Buehrle (13-12) allowed four runs over 7 innings as host Miami beat Cincinnati. Johnny Cueto (17-9) suffered his third straight loss and failed to last five innings for the second straight start.

Giants 3, Diamondbacks 2 — Buster Posey had a two-run homer as San Francisco won in Phoenix. Barry Zito (12-8) allowed six hits and a run in 6 innings for the Giants.

Astros 5, Phillies 0 — Dallas Keuchel pitched five-hit ball into the sixth inning and Houston Astros beat Philadelphia and avoided its 100th loss of the season.

Brewers 9, Mets 6 — Rickie Weeks hit a two-run homer during a five-run fourth inning to lift host Milwaukee over New York.