Alex Rodriguez started New York’s four-run first inning with an RBI single, and rookie Ivan Nova handled the NL’s most prolific offense for eight innings, leading the Yankees to a 5-3 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Monday night.
The Yankees have won nine of 11, moving a season-best 13 games over .500 at 42-29. Their high-powered offense has led the way.
New York started fast against left-hander Travis Wood (5-5), who made an unexpected start. Originally scheduled to pitch on Tuesday, he was moved up a day when Johnny Cueto showed up with a stiff neck.
Nova (7-4) won his third straight start, allowing a run and four singles without walking a batter.
The AL’s top bullpen allowed the Reds to rally in the ninth. Brandon Phillips led off with a single and Boone Logan hit Joey Votto with none out. Mariano Rivera came on and gave up Scott Rolen’s RBI single and Chris Heisey’s run-scoring forceout before fanning pinch-hitter Edgar Renteria for his 18th save in 21 chances.
Rivera has converted his last 21 chances against the NL and has a record 65 career interleague saves.
The Reds lead the NL in runs, but have struggled lately. They scored four runs _ all off homers _ while dropping two of three games against Toronto over the weekend.
Interleague play has been a big problem for the defending NL Central champions, who are 1-6 against the American League.
The Yankees are visiting for the first time since 2003, when they had an unexpected moment in franchise history at Great American Ball Park. Late owner George Steinbrenner decided to make Derek Jeter the team’s 11th captain during the series, informing the shortstop by phone.
The Yankees lead the majors in homers and score a higher percentage of runs off the homer than any other team. That powerful offense would seem to be a perfect fit at Great American, one of he majors’ most homer-friendly places.
Instead, New York won by keeping it simple.
The Yankees put together four singles and Robinson Cano had an RBI double in the first inning to help build a 4-0 lead against Wood, who needed 33 pitches to get three outs. Rodriguez’s single drove home the first run and gave him 178 career interleague RBIs, the most by any player.
After Cano’s hit, a large group of NY fans in the capacity crowd of 41,173 started chanting: “Let’s Go Yankees!”
Their offense already had what it needed. Cincinnati got a pair of singles in the first, when Votto grounded into a run-scoring double play.