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Nova bounces back to shut out Giants 6-0

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- While watching videotape of last Sunday's nightmarish outing against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, Ivan Nova suspected his mechanics might be leading to pitch tipping.

Nova thought about that Saturday afternoon as he took the Yankee Stadium mound with the intention of keeping his mechanics consistent -- and it worked in another game that the New York Yankees had to win.

Nova pitched a six-hitter for his second career shutout, leading the Yankees to a 6-0 victory over the San Francisco Giants.

Nova (9-5) came into the game having gone 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in his previous three starts. That included a 9-2 loss in Boston when he allowed five runs and six hits in four innings while throwing 89 pitches, many that were fouled off.

"We were trying to watch video with my pitching coach (Larry Rothchild)," Nova said. "In Boston, I think I was. We worked in the bullpen to fix it. That's why we worked to the hide the ball (better)."

Nova was able to fix that by concealing the ball better with his glove and it led to improved command in his sinking fastball and curveball. That allowed Nova to record 14 outs on the ground, three shy of his career high and hold the Giants hitless in 13 at-bats with men on.

"It could have been," catcher Chris Stewart said of the pitch tipping. "They were sitting on some good pitches but he also threw a lot more strikes today and that was the difference."

Added Yankees manager Joe Girardi, "It's always hard to predict what's going to happen, but I thought his stuff was really, really good today."

Nova had little threats against him through his crisp 108-pitch outing with the exception of the fourth inning when he gave up a leadoff double to Brandon Belt. Nova kept the Giants scoreless by striking out Buster Posey and retiring Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval on groundouts.

"To me that was a big turnaround," Girardi said.

Nova recorded six of his seven strikeouts with men on base and when he fanned pinch hitter Johnny Monell on an 82-mph slider for the final out, he joined Hiroki Kuroda (2012) and Mike Mussina (2001, 2002 and 2005) as the only Yankees to have multiple complete-game shutouts in a single season since 1999.

He was great," New York left fielder Alfonso Soriano said. "Everything worked for him today."

More importantly, Nova's gem helped the Yankees (82-73) win for just the seventh time in 16 games and it moved them within 2 1/2 games of the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card spot. The Indians hosted the Houston Astros Saturday night.

"Every time you go out there you hope to have a complete game," Nova said. "It's a good thing, especially in the time of the year that we are (in)."

Eduardo Nunez and Soriano hit home runs for the Yankees, who clinched their 21st straight winning season. Ichiro Suzuki, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano also drove in runs for New York.

The Yankees put together a three-run third against San Francisco starter Ryan Vogelsong (3-6). Suzuki hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, Rodriguez had an RBI groundout and Robinson Cano added a run-scoring single.

An inning later, the lead grew to 5-0 when Nunez sent a first-pitch fastball into the left field seats, scoring Curtis Granderson. It was Nunez's second home run of the season and first in 108 at-bats since Aug. 7 in Chicago.

The Giants dropped to 3-6 on their 10-game road trip as they were blanked for the 11th time. Sandoval and Belt combined for four hits but the rest of the team was 2-for-26.

"We are cold with the bats," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've been getting guys in base but we can't keep it moving right now. We were really flat today."

Voegelsong allowed five runs and five hits in five innings and fell to 0-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his last five starts.

NOTES: Mariano Rivera was honored by Engine Company 42 of the Bronx, as the firefighters presented him with a fire helmet bearing his No. 42. ... C Austin Romine missed the game and although he has been cleared to play following his Sept. 10 concussion, the Yankees said he might miss the rest of the season. ... San Francisco INF Joaquin Arias was held out of the lineup after injuring his left hamstring in the seventh inning Friday, and he will miss a few days. ... Sandoval was removed from the game in the eighth inning with a tight back.
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