The New York Yankees hope that Ivan Nova can re-find the form that made him the American League's Pitcher of the Month for August when they continue a three-game series versus the San Francisco Giants at Yankee Stadium.
Nova had been 4-0 over six August starts, but is 0-1 in three starts since the calendar changed and is coming off a pair of awful outings. He absorbed the loss on Sunday in Boston, as he allowed five runs (4 earned) and six hits over four innings in that one to drop him to 8-5 to go along with a 3.36 ERA. He had surrendered four runs in six innings of a no-decision in Baltimore his previous time out.
"I wasn't throwing strikes," Nova said. "I was trying to attack the hitter. I fell behind in the count and they got really good at-bats."
Alex Rodriguez kept New York's fading postseason hopes alive on Friday, as he broke out of a slump with a historic grand slam in the bottom of the seventh inning to lift the Yankees to a 5-1 victory.
Rodriguez's blast off reliever George Kontos was the 24th grand slam of his decorated career, surpassing Lou Gehrig for the most by any player in major league history. The homer came with the score tied at 1-1 and helped the Yanks move within three games of Cleveland for the final wild card spot in the American League.
"You've got to think of just one game at a time," said Rodriguez, who had been mired in a 1-for-25 slump prior to his blast. "But hopefully this ended the streak and we can get something rolling from here."
Alfonso Soriano added a solo homer as part of a 2-for-3 night, while CC Sabathia (14-13) did his part on the mound by tossing seven strong innings of one-run ball in which he scattered seven hits.
Kontos entered after New York had loaded the bases with two out against Tim Lincecum (10-14), who wound up charged with four runs over 6 2/3 innings and had a five-start unbeaten streak (4-0) came to an end.
"I let them get some men on cheaply out there and that's on me," said Lincecum. "It was tough to watch, I put the team in a bad situation."
Juan Perez went 2-for-4 and knocked in San Francisco's lone run with a third- inning double. The Giants lost for only the second time in six tries.
On Saturday, the Giants will hand the ball to righty Ryan Vogelsong, who is 3-5 with a 5.73 ERA. Vogelsong did not get a decision on Sunday in Los Angeles, as the Dodgers reached him for three runs and seven hits in six innings of San Francisco's 4-3 win.
The Giants haven't faced the Yankees since taking two of three from them back in 2007. San Fran, though, lost two of three in its only other trip to the Bronx.