Super Nova blanks Orioles

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Even as the ball left the bat, Ivan Nova knew that Chris Davis had not hit it well enough to drive it over the right field fence.

Nova knew because of the disappointed facial expression Davis made as the ball only reached the warning track and went into Ichiro Suzuki's glove for the second out of the ninth inning.

Nova turned in a performance that created a lot of disappointed reactions for the Baltimore Orioles, as he pitched a three-hitter for his second career complete game that gave the New York Yankees a 2-0 victory on Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

Nova (8-4) hardly was threatened as he allowed singles to Matt Wieters, Manny Machado and Nate McLouth along with three other base runners.

His biggest threat of a 104-pitch outing came on his penultimate pitch, a 2-and-2 curveball to Davis.

Davis had struck out twice on the same pitch, but this time made contact. The ball was hit high enough but instead of going over the wall for Davis' major-league leading 48th home run, it landed in Ichiro's glove.

"I got a little bit scared, but I think I made a good pitch," Nova said. "I see the face that he put after he hit the ball and I knew he wasn't happy."

Added Yankee catcher Chris Stewart: "Anytime that guy gets the ball in the air, you always hold your breath. It's not fun when a lefty puts a ball in that part of the yard.

"There have been some bad hit balls getting hit over the fence and it's never fun, but I'm just glad that ball stayed in the yard."

On the next pitch, Nova finished off his first shutout by getting Adam Jones on a line drive to shortstop Derek Jeter.

Had Davis actually hit that pitch over the wall, it could have given Baltimore a one-run lead, but moments before Robinson Cano provided a second run by hitting his 25th home run of the season in the eighth.

"I was a little worried," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "When a guy has that many home runs, you're a little bit worried, and we know that right field can play somewhat short, but I saw Ich (Ichiro) stop running backwards, which was a good sign."

Cano also had an RBI single in the first off Baltimore starter Scott Feldman (4-4) as the Yankees won for the 14th time in 20 games and moved to within four games of the second AL wild card spot on a day Alex Rodriguez was a late scratch because of flu-like symptoms.

"I don't remember who I told, but I don't want to pitch, 1-0," Nova said. "Sometimes it's hard with that lineup that they have, sometimes it's hard but I stayed focused."

Nova's second complete game against the Orioles in two months improved his record to 4-0 over his last six starts and 5-2 over his last 10.

He has two of New York's five complete games and his latest is coming at a time when veterans CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda have struggled.

Nova recorded five strikeouts with his curveball and then often used an effective sinking two-seam fastball to get a majority of his nine groundball outs.

By not being able to do much of anything against Nova, the Orioles lost for the 11th time in 17 games and were surpassed by the Yankees in the wild card race.

"We need to play good," shortstop J.J. Hardy said. "We don't have a lot left. Our backs are up against the wall and we need to start playing good baseball."

The biggest chance Baltimore had against Nova before the ninth was in the eighth when Hardy drew a walk on a close 3-and-2 pitch. Two pitches later, Wilson Betemit grounded into a double play, and on the next pitch Nova easily fielded a ground ball by Brian Roberts.

"I think this was the best sinker he had in the many times we faced him," Wieters said. "He was down, he was getting ground balls. His curveball is a pitch that has come on lately but I think his sinker down is what really got us."

Feldman allowed one run and six hits in seven innings.

NOTES: OF Michael Morse officially joined the Orioles after being acquired from the Seattle Mariners in a waiver deal on Friday. To create a spot for Morse, INF/OF Steve Pearce was placed on the 15-day disabled list with left wrist tendinitis. .... Alfonso Soriano made his seventh start as a designated hitter. ... In a pregame ceremony, the Yankees recognized United States Army Staff Sgt. Ty Michael Carter, who received the Medal of Honor earlier this week for his heroism in Afghanistan on Oct. 3, 2009. ... Manager Joe Girardi said Alex Rodriguez started feeling sick Friday night and that the third baseman looked pale while taking batting practice.
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