Nova's struggles continue as Yanks fall to Jays
Toronto — Ivan Nova is struggling to be consistent, and he's not happy about it.
J.P. Arencibia hit a two-run homer, Melky Cabrera had three hits and the Toronto Blue Jays rallied for an 8-4 victory over the New York Yankees on Sunday after Josh Johnson walked in the tying and go-ahead runs.
Nova saw his ERA rise from 5.59 to 6.14 after allowing four runs and seven hits in five-plus innings.
"I still lack command, I'm not throwing strikes and that kind of makes me mad," Nova said. "I know I can do better than this and I'm not happy."
Seeking his first road win since beating Toronto last Aug. 11, Nova walked a season-high four and struck out five.
"I don't think he really got a feel for any pitch consistently," catcher Chris Stewart said. "One hitter it would be there, the next hitter it wouldn't."
Nova insisted his mechanics are fine but said he's still having difficulty repeating pitches, a problem he said has plagued him since the second half of last season.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was more kind, saying deep counts hurt Nova more than hard-hit balls.
"The first four hits he gives up, only one of them is centered," Girardi said. "I thought he threw the ball OK, it was just the long counts that got him."
Arencibia hit his seventh homer, tying him with Baltimore's Chris Davis for the AL lead, as the Blue Jays avoided their first three-game sweep against New York since the opening series of the 2003 season.
"Maybe today is something that'll get us going," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said.
Brett Cecil (1-0) worked 1 1-3 innings for the win as the Blue Jays capped a seven-game homestand on a winning note.
"We know what this team is capable of," Arencibia said. "We just have to continue to put at-bats together and when you have an opportunity, try to rally behind it."
Esmil Rogers worked 1 1-3 innings and Darren Oliver pitched the ninth for Toronto.
Stewart hit a solo homer for the Yankees, who had won nine of their previous 11.
"Our goal is to take every series and if you can do that, you're going to be in good shape come September," Girardi said. "It's not the way you want to leave but we won two out of three here."
Toronto opened the scoring in the first. Munenori Kawasaki reached on an infield single, went to third on Cabrera's base hit and scored on a throwing error by Eduardo Nunez as the Yankees failed to turn a double play.
Colby Rasmus hit a leadoff double in the second and later scored on Kawasaki's sacrifice fly, but the Yankees cut the gap in half on Stewart's leadoff homer in the third, his first.
A superb defensive play by Vernon Wells kept Toronto from adding to its lead in the fourth. Jose Bautista singled to open the inning and Edwin Encarnacion followed with a drive to deep left.
But the former Blue Jays outfielder made a leaping catch at the top of the wall and Bautista, who had already made the turn at second, was doubled off first on a relay throw from Robinson Cano.
New York took the lead with two runs in the fifth, capitalizing on some wildness by Johnson. Singles by Stewart, Cano and Wells loaded the bases before Johnson issued consecutive two-out walks to Lyle Overbay and Nunez.
"It seems like it happens a couple of times a year where all of a sudden you can't find the zone for whatever reason," Johnson said.
The Yankees added one more in the sixth. Jayson Nix hit a leadoff single, went to second on a wild pitch and advanced on Stewart's sacrifice. Cecil replaced Johnson before Nix scored on Brett Gardner's sacrifice fly.
Johnson allowed four runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings to remain winless in four starts. He walked three and struck out four.
Toronto chased Nova and reclaimed the lead with a four-run sixth against a Yankees bullpen that has a 5.09 ERA. In contrast, New York's starters have a 3.44 ERA.
Adam Lind walked and Arencibia doubled, bringing Boone Logan (0-1) out of the bullpen. Rasmus scored Lind with a broken bat single to center and David Phelps replaced Logan, but gave up a two-run double to Brett Lawrie, whose liner down the third base line stayed fair by inches. Two outs later, Cabrera capped the rally with an RBI single to right.
Lind drew a one-out walk off Phelps in the seventh and Arencibia followed with a drive to center, his second homer of the series.
"They have guys up and down that lineup that can hurt you," Wells said. "They don't have to piece together single after single, they have guys who can leave the ballpark in a hurry."
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