Yankees 9, Royals 7

Yankees hold off Royals

Nova ekes out win; NY slips into first

Roy Halladay tied a career high with 14 strikeouts. Roy Halladay tied a career high with 14 strikeouts. (Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
By Dave Skretta
Associated Press / August 17, 2011

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Yankees were determined to keep Ivan Nova’s impressive winning streak intact. The only question was whether he would be around long enough to reap the rewards.

It turned out he was. Just barely.

Nova survived into the fifth inning in his shakiest outing in months, and Robinson Cano’s three-run homer into the Kauffman Stadium fountains gave him a lift. Russell Martin and Derek Jeter each added a pair of RBIs and the Yankees went on to beat the Kansas City Royals, 9-7, last night.

The Yankees (74-46) moved a season-best 28 games over .500 and a half game ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East with their 16th win in their last 22 games.

“A win is a win, no matter the way you get it,’’ said the soft-spoken Nova (12-4), who tied Andy Pettitte and Orlando Hernandez for the most wins by a Yankees rookie in the past three decades.

Nova has won eight straight decisions since a 3-2 defeat to the Angels June 3.

“We won the game. Bottom line is we won the game,’’ manager Joe Girardi added. “He doesn’t need a mulligan. I mean, he’s pitched really well. Great pitchers get hit. It’s going to happen.’’

Nova finally departed with one out in the fifth, and Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano, and David Robertson shepherded the game to Mariano Rivera.

The veteran closer pitched another perfect ninth for his 32d save, his second in as many nights, and his 27th in a row against Kansas City dating to May 2, 1999.

Melky Cabrera hit a solo homer against his former team, and Jeff Francoeur drove in a pair of runs as the Royals took a 5-3 lead through three innings. But the Yankees blew the game open with a five-run fourth, which included a stretch of five consecutive hitters reaching to start the inning. Cano delivered the biggest blow, a rocket shot into the fountains in right field to finish off a 12-pitch at-bat and knock Danny Duffy from the game.

The 22-year-old Duffy (3-7) allowed eight runs and eight hits, walked two and hit two after mowing through the first three batters he faced in just 11 pitches.

He ended up throwing 90 before he was done.

“It’s a pretty big heartache to lose a game like that,’’ Duffy said.

Especially the way things started out.

Billy Butler hit a two-out single in the first inning, Eric Hosmer followed with an RBI double and Francoeur lined a single - and suddenly the Royals had a 2-0 lead.

Then Duffy’s command failed him, and New York pulled ahead in the third.

The lefthander plunked Curtis Granderson with one out, walked Mark Teixeira, allowed an RBI single to Cano and walked Nick Swisher to load the bases. Royals manager Ned Yost came out to the mound, but the brief visit didn’t seem to do much good. Martin’s two-run double moments later gave New York the lead.

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