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Nova lifts surging Yankees past sinking Sox

Steven Senne | AP
Steven Senne | AP
Boston Red Sox's Ryan Sweeney crashes into the wall as he is unable to get a glove on an RBI triple hit by New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez in the fifth inning of a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston, Sunday, July 8, 2012.
By Howard Ulman, The Associated Press

BOSTON — Ivan Nova struck out 10, Andruw Jones hit his fourth homer in three games and the surging New York Yankees went into the All-Star break with a 7-3 win over the Boston Red Sox on Sunday night.

The Yankees took three of four at Fenway Park and boosted their record to a major league-best 52-33. They hold the biggest division lead in baseball at seven games over Baltimore.

Boston (43-43) dropped its sixth game in the last seven and fell into a last-place tie in the division with the Toronto Blue Jays, 9 1-2 games off the pace. Only three AL teams — Minnesota, Kansas City and Seattle — are below .500 at the break.

Nova (10-3) allowed two runs and six hits in six innings. Jones provided a cushion with a two-run homer in the seventh that gave New York a 7-2 lead.

Jon Lester (5-6), who won at least 15 games in each of the last four seasons, left with one out in the fifth after giving up five runs and nine hits. Until Sunday, the lefty had rebounded from early-season troubles and posted a 3.86 ERA in 13 starts.

The Yankees scored in the first inning in all four games in the series, taking a 2-0 lead in the finale. The first three batters all hit safely — singles by Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson and an RBI double by Mark Teixeira. Granderson scored when Nick Swisher grounded into a forceout.

The Red Sox got an unearned run in the bottom of the inning when Jeter dropped a routine popup by Cody Ross with two outs. The shortstop’s misplay scored Pedro Ciriaco, who had singled and stolen second.

New York made it 3-1 in the second on a double by Jayson Nix, a passed ball by Jarrod Saltalamacchia and a sacrifice fly by Chris Stewart. Boston came back again with a run in the third on Ciriaco’s single and David Ortiz’s double.

The Yankees drove Lester from the game in the fifth, scoring twice for a 5-2 lead. Teixeira started the rally with a single and scored on a triple by Alex Rodriguez. Jones then singled in Rodriguez.

Nova won five consecutive starts before going 0-1 in his next three. He would have gotten out of a first-inning jam had Jeter held on to the soft popup near second base. The righty even pumped his fist and started walking off the mound but stopped as the ball bounced out of Jeter’s glove.

Then Nova struck out the side in the second before escaping trouble in the third when the Red Sox scored a run and loaded the bases with one out. But Saltalamacchia struck out for the fifth time in seven at-bats and Ryan Sweeney grounded out.

Nova fanned three of his last four batters and at least one in each of his six innings.

Jones’ homer was his 11th of the season and the Yankees’ 134th, most in the majors. They’re on a pace for a club-record 255. The 1997 Seattle Mariners hold the major league record with 264.

NOTES: Robinson Cano extended his hitting streak to 15 games with a double in the ninth, tying Jeter for the longest on the Yankees this year. … Ortiz’s double was his 373rd with the Red Sox, tying Jim Rice for sixth in club history. … Nova had lost his last road start, ending a streak of 16 starts without a loss away from home. … Jeter scored his 1,816th run in the first, tying Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski for 16th on the all-time list. … Red Sox 1B Adrian Gonzalez left the game in the third because of illness. He struck out in his only at-bat, ending his career-best hitting streak at 18 games. … The Red Sox will honor Jason Varitek before their night game July 21 against the Toronto Blue Jays. The catcher retired in February after 15 seasons with the team. … Ceremonial first pitches were thrown by Ted Williams’ daughter Claudia (to Rice) and Babe Ruth’s granddaughter Linda Ruth Tosetti (to Ortiz).

SATURDAY’S GAMES: Pedro Ciriaco had four hits and four RBIs one day after being called up from Triple-A Pawtucket and the Boston Red Sox gained a split of a doubleheader with the New York Yankees with a 9-5 win Saturday after a 6-1 loss.

“It’s amazing. It’s a good feeling,” Ciriaco said of hearing those chants as he came to the plate in the seventh inning. “I was very surprised, but it’s fun.”

Before his promotion, the infielder had 39 at-bats in 31 games with the Pittsburgh Pirates the past two seasons. Hardly enough to make him a familiar name in a different city.

“I can guarantee you most people in the ballpark weren’t carrying his baseball card with them,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said, “but he had a super performance.”

So did rookie Mauro Gomez, who had three hits in the nightcap and is 8 for 17 in five games since being promoted from Pawtucket on Tuesday.

“I believe in him as a hitter,” Valentine said. “He can use the whole field and hit a lot of different pitches.”

Injuries to second baseman Dustin Pedroia and third baseman Will Middlebrooks led the Red Sox to call up Gomez to fill in at third and Ciriaco to play second and shortstop. They played key roles in the sixth, when the Red Sox scored three runs, and in the seventh, when they added four to build their 9-4 lead.

Ciriaco hit a three-run double in the sixth, then reached on a hard shot past third that was ruled a two-base error before being changed to an RBI double. He stole third and continued home on a wild throw by catcher Russell Martin in the seventh. Gomez singled in the sixth, doubled in a run in the seventh and scored both times.

The Red Sox broke a five-game losing streak with their first win in five games against the Yankees. New York is a major league-best 51-33 after its three-game winning streak ended as it made a season-high four errors.

“You can’t give a good team extra outs and they capitalized on the extra outs,” Derek Jeter said.

Andruw Jones hit three homers in the doubleheader, including two of the Yankees’ four in the opener in which Freddy Garcia pitched 6 2-3 solid innings in muggy conditions. They added three homers in the nightcap, running their baseball-high total to 133. They’re on a pace for a club-record 255. The 1997 Seattle Mariners hold the major league record with 264.

For the third straight game, the Yankees had a big first inning, scoring three runs in the nightcap. They had five in that inning in Friday night’s 10-8 win and four in Saturday’s opener.

The three runs came with no outs on Mark Teixeira’s 15th homer. But Felix Doubront (9-4) allowed just one more hit before Jones led off the seventh with a solo homer, his 10th, cutting the lead to 5-4.

The Red Sox had made it 3-1 in the third when Gomez doubled, took third on Ciriaco’s single and scored on Daniel Nava’s double-play grounder. Nick Punto’s sacrifice fly made it 3-2 in the fifth.

Boston knocked Phil Hughes (9-7) out of the game in the sixth, loading the bases on a single by Adrian Gonzalez, an error by Jeter and a single by Gomez. Ciriaco cleared the bases with his double.

Gonzalez doubled in the seventh, one of his three hits as he extended his hitting streak to a career-best 18 games.

He scored on a triple by Ryan Sweeney, who came in on Gomez’s double. Gomez scored the double by Ciriaco, who came around on his steal and a bad throw. The Yankees ended the scoring on a solo homer in the ninth by Eric Chavez, his seventh.

In the opener, Nick Swisher belted a three-run homer in the first and Jayson Nix added a solo drive in the fourth. Swisher snapped an 0-for-17 slide with his 13th homer. The next batter, Jones, followed with a drive to nearly the same spot.

“It’s crazy, man. Like I’ve always said, this team’s designed to hit home runs,” Swisher said. “That’s kind of our thing.”

Each of the four homers in Game 1 came against Franklin Morales (1-2).

All-Star slugger Robinson Cano went 1 for 4 and scored a run for New York, but his streak of games with at least one RBI was snapped at nine. He equaled Jeter’s 2004 surge as the longest by a Yankee since Reggie Jackson went 11 in a row in 1979.

Morales lasted just 3 1-3 innings, yielding six runs and six hits.

“I missed with my fastball and they hit homers,” he said.

Garcia (3-2) gave up one run and six hits.

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