NEW YORK (AP) - Ivan Nova and the Yankees' impressive defense were just too much for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Nova outpitched Brandon Morrow to win his 11th straight decision with some help from an acrobatic outfield and Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking single in the fifth inning, lifting New York to a 3-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Friday night.
Nova (15-4) was nearly unhittable for seven innings after giving up two hits and two runs with no outs in the first.
Garnder made two tough catches to help hold the Blue Jays in the first inning. He then hit a two-run homer in the third for New York, which returned early Friday from a successful trip to Boston.
``We came out in the first inning. I thought we jumped all over (Nova's) fastball and some tremendous defense by Gardner in left field on two balls that kind of maybe would've turned the game around, even that early in the ballgame,' Blue Jays acting manager Don Wakamatsu said. ``From that point on, I think it was four or five innings before we had another baserunner. Our hats are off to Nova. I thought he pitched a heck of a ball game.'
Morrow (9-10) made few mistakes against a Yankees lineup missing Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez, their Nos. 3 and 4 hitters. Teixeira was hit by a pitch on his right knee on Thursday and was still sore a day later. Rodriguez was out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with a strained left thumb.
After the game, Teixeira, wearing a bandage on his knee, said he had not improved and hoped he'd wake up Saturday feeling better.
``Anytime I try to flex my leg or walk, that hamstring is real tight there behind the knee,' Teixeira said.
Mariano Rivera pitched a perfect ninth for his 37th save in 42 chances one night after striking out Adrian Gonzalez with the bases loaded to close out a victory against the Red Sox that gave New York a win in two of three games against their AL East rival.
Gardner lined a 3-1 pitch over the fence in right-center for the Yankees' first hit with one out in the third. Russell Martin had walked leading off and Eduardo Nunez lined out to right field before Gardner came up.
Morrow gave up just three more hits but he was hurt by another walk, to Curtis Granderson, in the fifth. He gave Granderson the pass after Derek Jeter singled to put runners on first and second. Cano then lined a single to center, scoring Jeter for the 3-2 lead.
Morrow has lost his last three starts and is 1-5 with a 5.40 ERA in his last six outings.
``It definitely was a step in the right direction,' Morrow said. ``I thought I threw the ball better, a lot better than I had the last couple of times.'
Nova held the Blue Jays without a hit after Jose Bautista singled in a run with no outs in the first inning until Eric Thames doubled with one out in the sixth.
The 24-year-old rookie has solidified his spot in a crowded New York rotation that will be cut to five pitchers early next week by improving to 7-0 since being recalled from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre on July 30. He gave up three hits and two walks - one intentional - and struck out four. The Yankees are 12-0 in his last 12 starts.
``The best way to stay in the rotation and not be sent down is pitch' well, Nova said.
Adam Lind followed Bautista's single in the first with a sacrifice fly - Gardner's first spectacular catch - for the game's first out - and a 2-0 Toronto lead. Then with Bautista running, Edwin Encarnacion hit a sharp liner to left caught by a sliding Gardner. Bautista had already rounded second and conceded the double play.
``Gardy had a huge game,' manager Joe Girardi said. ``Gardy drove in two, scored a run and probably saved two himself.'
Bautista robbed Granderson of seeing another pitch in the second when he made a leaping catch at the wall in foul territory down the right-field line. In the fourth, Bautista was on the other end, sending a long drive to right-center that Andruw Jones caught above the wall for the first out.
Gardner made a long running catch in the fifth on a drive by rookie Brett Lawrie. In the sixth, Jones went down to the ground to make a catch of Yunel Escobar's sinking liner and Granderson caught Lind's drive running into the wall in center.
``Nova kept the ball in the stadium,' Jones said. ``That's why we're out there, to make plays.'
Toronto played an eighth straight game without manager John Farrell. He is recovering from pneumonia and won't be with the Jays this weekend. Bench coach Wakamatsu is running the team in Farrell's place.
NOTES: Blue Jays RHP Dustin McGowan, out since 2008 because of an injured right shoulder that required two operations, pitched 3 2-3 scoreless innings, scattering four hits, for Double-A New Hamsphire in his fifth rehab start. Wakamatsu said McGowan had no problems at all. He could join the Blue Jays this month. ... Girardi said LHP CC Sabathia will start Sunday and RHP Freddy Garcia Monday but wouldn't commit to a starter for Tuesday. ... Toronto LHP Ricky Romero (13-9) will face New York RHP Bartolo Colon (8-9) on Saturday.
The Associated Press News Service
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