PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Pittsburgh’s Ivan Nova gained a measure of revenge over his old team, limiting the New York Yankees to just four hits over seven innings as the Pirates held on for a 2-1 victory on Sunday.
Nova (2-2) struck out a season-high seven and walked just one, his lone mistake a solo home run by Jacoby Ellsbury in the seventh. Tony Watson picked up his sixth save after working out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the ninth.
Andrew McCutchen reached base twice and scored on a double by Gregory Polanco off Jordan Montgomery (1-1). David Freese added a sacrifice fly for Pittsburgh, which won despite going just 1 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
Ellsbury’s second home run of the season was New York’s only extra-base hit. Montgomery struck out five and walked two in his fourth career start. The Yankees fell to 3-6 on the road this season.
Nova spent six-plus seasons with the Yankees, going a respectable 53-39 even as his ERA rose steadily over his final three years in pinstripes. The Yankees sent him to Pittsburgh at the trade deadline last summer, and the 30-year-old has revitalized his career with the Pirates.
The right-hander parlayed his late season success into a three-year deal to remain in Pittsburgh and he spent the better part of seven innings showcasing why he’s thrived in Pittsburgh.
Nova worked quickly, needing just 86 pitches to get 21 outs to improve to 7-4 with a 2.76 ERA since joining the Pirates. He kept the Yankees without a hit until consecutive one-out singles in the fourth. A double play quickly ended the threat.
Montgomery, who won his first game in the majors in his last start, loaded the bases in the first but the Pirates only managed Freese’s sacrifice fly.
Pittsburgh doubled its lead in the fourth when McCutchen scored from first on Polanco’s double to the right-field wall. McCutchen blew through third base coach Joey Cora’s stop sign but still easily beat the throw home.
That was enough for Nova and Pittsburgh’s bullpen. Barely.
The Yankees put the tying run on third in the eighth before Daniel Hudson struck out Starlin Castro to end a nine-pitch at bat.
New York threatened again in the ninth, loading the bases with one out when second baseman Josh Harrison misplayed a potential double-play ground ball.
Watson struck out Aaron Hicks then got Pete Kozma to ground into a force out to end it.
Yankees: Manager Joe Girardi reiterated SS Didi Gregorious will move back to his normal starting spot when he returns from a strained right shoulder despite solid play by replacement Ronald Torreyes, who is hitting .293 while filling in during Gregorious’ absence.
Pirates: Manager Clint Hurdle said C Francisco Cervelli was removed from Saturday afternoon’s loss in the ninth inning due to “game fatigue” and nothing more. Cervelli was given a previously scheduled day off. … The team is concerned about reliever Antonio Bastardo’s decrease in velocity but haven’t discovered a physical issue at this point.
Yankees: Are off Monday and head to Boston to face the Red Sox for the first time in 2017 on Tuesday. Luis Severino (1-1, 4.05 ERA) will face Rick Porcello (1-2, 5.32) in the opener.
Pirates: Host the Chicago Cubs for a three-game series beginning Monday. Chad Kuhl (1-1, 2.60) starts for Pittsburgh. The Pirates swept three games in Chicago earlier this month.
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