Their latest win wasn't pretty, but the Yankees held off the Royals, 9-7, on Tuesday night behind an erratic Ivan Nova and an impressive offense that is about to get Alex Rodriguez back. With Boston's split of a doubleheader against Tampa Bay, the Yankees now own a half-game lead in the American League East. Nova, who had pitched well since returning from the Minors -- he also pitched well in Triple-A -- gave up seven runs in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out two and walked one. Everyone has been in love with Nova, 24, this season, but he has struck out only 5.4 batters per nine innings in the Major Leagues and that number is only a little higher in the Minors. Pitchers who strike out so few batters are rarely successful. Robinson Cano had two hits, including a three-run homer and an RBI single. Derek Jeter went 2-for-6 with an RBI double.

Jon Niese allowed 10 hits but managed to hold the Padres to three runs in six innings. But the Mets couldn't score other than on an RBI double by Ruben Tejada in a 6-1 loss to the Padres. The Mets and Padres play a rubber game in the mid-afternoon (early evening, New York time) on Wednesday.