Nova, who hasn't lost since June 3, won his third straight start since a stint in the minors on Wednesday against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, as he allowed three runs and five hits in six innings and upped his record to 11-4 on the year to go along with a 3.85 earned run average.
"I think he's made great strides since last year as a starter," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Nova. "There were times where big innings got away from him. I think he's just become more consistent. I think he took it as a challenge that, 'This would be the last time you're able to send me down.'"
The 24-year-old hurler was hammered by the Royals in his only other appearance against them earlier in the year, surrendering eight runs (four earned) and 10 hits in just three innings.
New York pulled into a tie atop the American League East standings with idle Boston on Monday, as Derek Jeter's two-run triple helped the Yankees to a 7-4 victory.
A.J. Burnett (9-9) lasted just 5 2/3 innings -- the 11th time this season he's failed to go at least six innings -- and allowed three runs and 10 hits. He gave up all his runs after Kansas City loaded the bases in the fifth, but got a key double play to escape further damage.
"I used a changeup a lot to both righties and lefties, got a couple of ground balls when I needed it with that pitch," Burnett said.
Because of his teammates' subsequent run support, the right-hander picked up his first win since June 29. He was 0-3 with a 6.00 earned run average in seven starts since.
"It feels good," said Burnett. "It makes you feel like you're part of it."
Jeter finished 3-for-4 with three RBI while Brett Gardner had two hits and drove in two in the win.
Felipe Paulino (1-5) allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings to take the loss for Kansas City, which was coming off a 1-6 road trip. Rookie second baseman Johnny Giavotella had a career-best three hits.
"The reason they make a lot of money is because they don't miss mistakes," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "Every ball that he (Paulino) got hurt on were pitches up."
The Royals turn to a young hurler of their own tonight in lefty Danny Duffy, who is 3-6 with a 4.97 ERA. Duffy lost his second straight start on Thursday, as he allowed three runs and five hits over seven innings to the Tampa Bay Rays.
He has never faced the Yankees.
Kansas City took two of three from the Yanks earlier in the year. These teams split four-games at Kauffman Stadium a year ago.