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Nova takes the mound for streaking Yankees

08/11/2012 2:05 AM ET
By The Associated Press

(AP) -- After a rough start to their current trip, the New York Yankees have turned things around.

They hope Ivan Nova can follow that lead and end his recent struggles on the mound.

The right-hander looks to avoid losing a third straight start while trying to help the Yankees to a fourth consecutive victory Saturday against the struggling Blue Jays.

New York (66-46) opened its seven-game trip with two straight losses at Detroit, but has totaled 26 runs while winning the last three. Ichiro Suzuki matched a career high with five RBIs and Mark Teixeira homered for the second straight game in Friday's 10-4 win at Toronto.

The AL East-leading Yankees have won six of nine after dropping nine of 12.

"It seems like we're starting to pick it up a little bit," catcher Russell Martin said.

Suzuki is batting .269 in 17 games since being traded to New York, but is 6-for-17 with nine RBIs in his last four.

"There's always an expectation here, whether it's fair or not, that when you get traded here you're supposed to really come and help," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Some guys are going to feel that heat and I don't think it's really bothered him."

Teixeira also is 6-for-17 over the same four-game stretch, and 4-for-11 with two homers in his last three versus Toronto (53-59).

Nova (10-6, 4.81 ERA), however, is 0-3 with an 8.36 ERA in five starts since winning at Boston on July 8.

Things have been particularly rough the last two outings, getting tagged for 16 runs and 21 hits over 10 1/3 innings in losses at home to Baltimore and at Detroit. He yielded seven of those runs in 5 1/3 innings of a 7-2 loss to the Tigers on Monday.

"Every pitcher goes through it," Girardi said. "For the most part, the kid has been pretty good for us but right now, he's struggling. He'll find his way out."

That could come Saturday versus a Toronto club he's gone 2-0 with a 3.47 ERA against in four starts.

Losers in 10 of 12 overall, the banged-up Blue Jays have scored eight runs during their current four-game skid. Kelly Johnson homered and drove in two runs Friday for Toronto, which is trying to keep its collective head above water without injured regulars Jose Bautista (wrist), Brett Lawrie (oblique), Adam Lind (back) and J.P. Arencibia (hand).

"It's not easy what we're going through right now," losing pitcher Ricky Romero said.

Things got worse Friday when outfielder Colby Rasmus left after eight innings with tightness in his right groin. Rasmus has 20 home runs and a career high-tying 66 RBIs.

Edwin Encarnacion is .285 with 29 homers and 75 RBIs, but is 1-for-13 in his last four contests. He's 1-for-9 against Nova.

The Blue Jays hand the ball to Aaron Laffey (3-2, 4.39), who has a 6.04 ERA in his last five starts but is 3-1 during that stretch. The left-hander allowed four runs in six innings of a 6-5 win at Oakland on Sunday.

Laffey is 0-1 with an 11.74 ERA in three appearances against the Yankees, but this will be his first start versus New York since April 28, 2008 while with Cleveland.

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