Ivan Nova is nowhere near the pitcher he was earlier this season for the New York Yankees. And he needs to get straightened out in the closing stretch of the season.
Nova gave up seven hits, including a grand slam to Kevin Youkilis, and six runs in six innings Tuesday night as the Yankees fell to the Chicago White Sox for the second straight night.
Paul Konerko also homered and former Yankee Dewayne Wise had four hits in Chicago's 7-3 win.
Nova (11-7) is 1-4 with a 7.28 ERA in his last eight starts.
"He's struggled. There's no doubt the second half, he's struggled," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He has not located like he did the first half, and his off-speed has not been consistent. You just got to keep working. That's all you can do."
With the game tied 2-2, the White Sox loaded the bases in the fifth inning on Alexei Ramirez's double, a walk and single by Wise. Youkilis' high fly to right then carried over the right field fence for his second grand slam at U.S. Cellular Field this season. He also cleared the bases in April for the Red Sox against the White Sox and Phil Humber.
"Youkilis put a good swing on it. I didn't think that ball was going to go, but the ball carries well here," Yankees catcher Russell Martin said. "That was a big blow."
Martin's assessment of Nova is that he's not putting the ball where he needs to in crucial situations.
"Right now it's just too many balls left over the heart of the plate," Martin said.
"He trusts his ability. He might be getting a little frustrated not getting the results he wants. The effort is there. He pitches with passion and he's a competitor ... but you have to keep working through the rough patch. ... Today was a day where he made more mistakes than usual."
Youkilis' opposite field grand slam was the difference.
"It just depends on the situation. I was trying to drive the ball to the outfield, get a runner in," Youkilis said. "That's what I was trying to do and I was very fortunate it got over the fence."
Chicago's Francisco Liriano (5-10) also went six innings, surrendering Derek Jeter's leadoff homer and two runs in the first while allowing six hits and three walks. But the Yankees could have had more.
"We had some opportunities, he just made some big pitches when he had to," Girardi said. "Our guys made him work. He was at about 100 (pitches) after five innings. We made him work, we just didn't get runs off of him."
Jeter hit the game's first pitch for his 12th homer, giving him sole possession of 11th place on the career hits list (3,256) and moving him ahead of Eddie Murray. The Yankees then loaded the bases on a single by Nick Swisher and two walks, but ended up with just one more run on Curtis Granderson's fielder's choice grounder as Liriano avoided a big inning.
Chicago got one back in the second on Alex Rios' triple and A.J. Pierzynski's sacrifice fly and then tied it on Konerko's 21st homer in the fourth.
Martin hit his 14th homer, a solo shot off Jesse Crain, in the seventh. Gordon Beckham had a two-out RBI single in the eighth to restore the four-run lead.
Notes: Yankees ace CC Sabathia threw 38 pitches in a bullpen session and said he expects to return to the rotation Friday against Cleveland. He's been on the DL with an inflamed elbow. ... OF Jordan Danks returned to the White Sox after a short stint in the minors as Chicago put Alejandro De Aza on the DL with sore ribs. Wise has been more than an adequate fill-in as both a center fielder and leadoff hitter with De Aza hurting.