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Nova sharp in return as Yanks down Rays

Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton scores a run in the second inning on Saturday. (AP-Yonhap News)
Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton scores a run in the second inning on Saturday. (AP-Yonhap News)
NEW YORK (AP) ― Some critical reinforcements are still on the way for the Yankees. With the AL East race up for grabs, New York would be thrilled if those players are as sharp as Ivan Nova when they get back.

Nova was downright nasty in his return from a shoulder injury and New York got back-to-back home runs from Curtis Granderson and Eduardo Nunez in a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Saturday.

“Even though he hadn’t pitched a lot, you could see where his endurance level was, where his velocity was, the deception on his pitches,” Granderson said. “He did an excellent job for us.”

Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez each had an RBI single for the Yankees, who began the day tied with Baltimore atop the division standings.

Evan Longoria homered for the third-place Rays, who fell four games behind New York with 17 to play.

“We don’t have a lot of time,” Longoria said.

One day after Yankees ace CC Sabathia lost his third straight decision, Nova outpitched James Shields and gave New York’s rotation a nice boost.

David Robertson worked a perfect eighth and Rafael Soriano got three outs for his 39th save in 42 attempts.

With two on in the ninth, Soriano fanned pinch-hitter Elliot Johnson for the final out ― assuring the Yankees (82-63) their 20th consecutive winning season.

Asked what he liked about Nova’s performance, Yankees manager Joe Girardi replied: “Everything.”

“We’ve seen him do it before. We really didn’t expect to get him into the seventh,” Girardi said. “I was extremely impressed with his stuff today and his command and what he did out there.”

Tigers win 4th straight to keep pace with White Sox

CLEVELAND (AP) ― Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and the Detroit Tigers beat the Cleveland Indians 5-3 Saturday despite losing a run on an appeal play.

Carlos Santana ruined Sanchez’s no-hit bid with a two-out triple in the seventh, but Cleveland was officially eliminated from the playoffs after falling to 16-45 since the All-Star break. Starter Justin Masterson (11-14) took the loss.

Sanchez (3-5) struck out seven over 6 2/3 innings as Detroit stayed one game behind the first place Chicago White Sox in the AL Central with its fourth straight win.

After Cleveland rallied, Jose Valverde, the fourth Tigers pitcher, worked the ninth for his 31st save in 35 chances.

Detroit got only one run instead of two in the fifth for a 4-0 lead when Alex Avila missed touching third while trying to score from second base.

With two outs, and Avila on second after an RBI double off Masterson, Quintin Berry hit a ball into the hole at shortstop, where Asdrubal Cabrera fielded it and threw to third to try and get Avila advancing. The wild throw sent Avila home and Berry to second.

Cleveland changed pitchers and reliever Tony Sipp stepped off the rubber and threw to third on an appeal as Berry broke for the bag in an attempted steal. Third-base ump Wally Bell ordered Berry back. The appeal happened again, with Berry again running, and this time Bell signaled out and took the run off the board.

Since Tigers manager Jim Leyland did not argue, it appeared that he had ordered Berry to run, hoping the Indians would tag him instead of stepping on the base. Third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall stood on the bag to take the throw, however, recording the out on Avila.

Pittsburgh 7, Chicago 6

Boston 3, Toronto 2

Chicago 5, Minnesota 3

Atlanta 5, Washington 4

Houston 5, Philadelphia 0

Kansas City 3, LA Angels 2

Milwaukee 9, NY Mets 6

Miami 6, Cincinnati 4

Seattle 8, Texas 6

San Francisco 3, Arizona 2

San Diego 4, Colorado 3

Oakland 5, Baltimore 2

LA Dodgers 4, St. Louis 3
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