- Wallace Matthews, ESPN Staff Writer
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SAN DIEGO -- The New York Yankees still can't hit very much, but when they get the kind of starting pitching they got Saturday night, and a rare home run for good measure, they can win a game even when the opposing pitcher shuts them down cold for half the game.
The Yankees got seven strong innings out of Ivan Nova, a welcome-back two-run homer by Curtis Granderson, and scoreless innings from David Robertson and Mariano Rivera (save No. 35) to win 3-0 over the San Diego Padres and salvage the chance to take the series in Sunday's finale.
Ace-like: Nova came up with a big performance, working seven scoreless innings and allowing just four hits. In two innings, he allowed leadoff doubles and both times worked his way out of trouble, although he had some help from plate umpire Scott Barry, who punched out Nick Hundley on a 2-2 pitch that was clearly outside to end the seventh with runners at first and second. Still, an excellent outing for Nova, who walked one and struck out eight and, at one point, retired 15 straight Padres. Nova's ERA over his past five starts: 1.66.
Big jack: In his second game back after missing 60 games with a broken hand, Granderson crushed a 1-0 pitch into the right-field seats with Alfonso Soriano aboard to break a scoreless tie and give the Yankees a 2-0 lead in the seventh.
Gift run: A bad call by first-base umpire Alfonso Marquez, who called Granderson safe although it was clear to the naked eye Grandy had been doubled off at first after Lyle Overbay flied out to center, gave the Yankees another run after Jayson Nix singled Granderson home from second with two out in the bottom of the ninth.
Quick outs: Padres starter Tyson Ross retired the first 13 Yankees he faced, seven on strikes, before Overbay busted up the no-no with a single with one out in the fifth.
Ivan some runs! For the first two-thirds of the game, Nova once again could have sued his teammates for non-support. The Yankees' string of shutout innings when Nova starts stretched to 22 until Granderson's seventh-inning home run. Before that, the last time they scored a run for him was the sixth inning of a game against the Royals on July 10. Not coincidentally, that was also the last time Nova won.
Tyson's punch-outs: At one point, Ross struck out five straight Yankees, starting with Brent Lillibridge leading off the third and ending with Robinson Cano as the second out of the fourth. By the sixth, Ross had struck out a career-high nine batters.
What's next: The series finale Sunday against the Padres matches up former Yankee teammates and prospects, Phil Hughes (4-9, 4.58) and RHP Ian Kennedy (3-8, 5.23 w/Arizona Diamondbacks), first pitch at 4:10 p.m. ET.