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NYY@LAA: Robertson fans Hunter to start a double play

ANAHEIM -- When Derek Jeter started Friday's game with a 15-pitch at-bat, the Yankees could have been forgiven if they dreamt of a short outing for Angels starter Jered Weaver. Instead, the Yankees had a long night of their own as their offense fell quiet behind an improved -- but still sometimes shaky -- Ivan Nova.

Nova, who the Yankees said was not pitching for his proverbial supper despite a recent rocky stretch, recovered from an uneven start to pitch six-plus innings of three-run ball as the Yankees fell, 3-2. The defeat in the series opener snapped a four-game winning streak.

Despite their stubborn beginning, the Yankees (31-24) could manage only two runs off Weaver. After throwing 53 pitches through two innings, the right-hander finished seven frames on 119 pitches.

"That was the game plan all along. To go up and just foul off as many pitches early on as I could and get his pitch count up," Jeter deadpanned after the game. "He made some tough pitches. I don't think he threw any balls over the middle of the plate."

Jeter was speaking about his marathon at-bat in the first, when he hit 10 consecutive foul balls, but he may as well have been speaking about the whole game. After Jorge Posada knocked in the second run with a ground-rule double in the fourth, the Yankees went hitless against Weaver and relievers Scott Downs and Jordan Walden. When the ball bounced into the right-field stands, Nick Swisher had to stop at third base. No Yankees runner reached second the rest of the night.

"I was like, 'You got to be kidding me,'" Weaver said. "That's not the way you want to start the game off. [Jeter] is who he is, and he's a battler. I'm glad we were able to get him out there."

"He's been stingy all year," manager Joe Girardi said of Weaver. "He doesn't walk a lot of people. I thought we did a pretty good job of making him work, but we just didn't get many hits."

Nova (4-4) encountered trouble early but recovered to pitch into the seventh. In the first, the righty allowed a one-out single to Erick Aybar, who moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a Bobby Abreu double. Abreu took third on a passed ball by Russell Martin and scored an unearned run on an Alberto Callaspo groundout.

But Nova recovered and left after allowing a leadoff single in the seventh. After not getting out of the fourth inning in two of his previous four starts, Nova and his manager took Friday's start as a positive development.

"It's really encouraging," Girardi said. "We saw him use his changeup. We saw him use his sinker. We saw him throw more strikes to night. He walked two guys in six innings. That's good."

"I think it was just throwing strikes," Nova said. "What happened in the first inning was in the first inning. I can't do anything about that. Just keep my head up and be aggressive and throw strikes."

Nova is not a strikeout pitcher, but he picked a good moment to pick up his first of two on Friday. With one run already in and the bases loaded in the fifth inning, Nova whiffed Maicer Izturis with one out and induced a flyout from Aybar to avoid further damage.

He also survived a scary moment in the fifth, when Torii Hunter lined a pitch back up the middle. The ball hit the heel of Nova's glove and then his hand. After the game, Girardi said Nova might experience some swelling.

"I just saw the ball coming at my face and I reacted," Nova said of his fast reflexes.

A quick approach may have doomed the Yankees' offense. Weaver started the sixth inning having thrown 101 pitches, but he retired the side six pitches later. Alex Rodriguez struck out on four pitches before Robinson Cano and Martin each popped out on the first pitch.

"If a guy gets a hit, no one questions it," Girardi said. "That's the bottom line. He's got outstanding breaking stuff. It's not a guy that you necessarily want to get behind in the count. Could we have gotten him out after six? Possibly. Maybe the guy who comes in in the seventh shuts us down."

The Yankees also went down in order in the seventh, when Weaver threw 12 pitches. Jeter's first-inning at-bat lasted longer than four individual innings Friday.

"You don't go up there planning on taking pitches because he doesn't walk too many guys," Jeter said. "He throws strikes. Today, too, we had some good at-bats early on, but he made some good pitches when he needed to. " Comments