Robinson Cano hit a three-run homer into the Kauffman Stadium fountains, Russell Martin and Derek Jeter each drove in a pair and the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals, 9-7, on Tuesday night to give Ivan Nova his eighth consecutive victory and take a half-game lead over Boston in the American League East.
Nova (12-4) struggled almost as much as Royals starter Danny Duffy (3-7), allowing five runs and seven hits through three innings. But he settled down and survived long enough to move past Alfredo Aceves for the longest winning streak by a Yankees rookie since 1980.
The right-hander also tied Orlando Hernandez and Andy Pettitte for the most wins by a Yankees rookie in the last three decades. Nova hasn't lost since a 3-2 defeat to the Los Angeles Angels on June 3.
Boone Logan, Rafael Soriano and David Robertson shepherded the game to Mariano Rivera, who pitched another perfect ninth for his 32nd save. It was also his 27th in a row against Kansas City dating to May 2, 1999.
Melky Cabrera hit a solo homer against his former team, and Jeff Francoeur drove in a pair of runs as the Royals took a 5-3 lead through three innings. But the Yankees blew the game open with a five-run fourth, which included a stretch of five consecutive hits to start the inning. Cano delivered the biggest blow, a rocket shot into the fountains in right field to finish off a marathon 12-pitch at-bat and knock Duffy from the game.
The 22-year-old Royals left-hander allowed eight runs and eight hits, walked two and hit two after mowing through the first three batters he faced in just 11 pitches. Duffy ended up throwing 90 before he was done.
Nova was just as shaky early on.
Billy Butler hit a two-out single in the first, Eric Hosmer followed with an RBI double and Francoeur gave the Royals a 2-0 lead with his base hit. He was thrown out trying to steal second to end the inning.
Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez (knee surgery) went 1 for 3 while playing six innings in a rehab game for Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre.