ATLANTA -- Yankees pitcher Ivan Nova singled in his first at-bat for his first major league hit, then mowed down the Atlanta Braves for seven innings as New York won the first game of a three-game series 3-0 Monday, tying them with Tampa Bay for first place in the American League East.
"Who would have thought it?" manager Joe Girardi said. "I think there's a lot of parity in our league this year, and I think there are a lot of good teams who are going to beat up on each other."
Nova (8-2) allowed only five singles, four of them to lead off innings: Michael Bourn in the first, Jason Heyward in the third, Martin Prado in the fourth and Chipper Jones in the fifth. The only other hit, by Braves starting right-hander Randall Delgado (4-6), came with two outs in the fifth, causing no damage.
"I was behind in the count," he said, "but I made the pitch. Or sometimes the pitch wasn't in the right spot, but they swung."
There were Yankees on base in all five innings Delgado pitched as he gave up five hits and six walks. Cory Gearrin, just called up from Triple-A Gwinnett, allowed three more hits and a walk in his two innings of work but was saved by timely double plays and a spectacular diving catch by Bourn.
The Yankees didn't need anything flashy on defense, or even pedestrian, really, since the Braves mounted no offense. The brightest spot for the Braves came when struggling reliever Jonny Venters went 1-2-3 in the ninth inning, striking out Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira.
The pro-Yankees crowd at Turner Field was in full voice as the Yankees scored a run in each of the first three innings to lead the Braves 3-0 after five innings.
Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez thought Delgado may have been too excited about facing the Yankees.
"He was coming out of his delivery, first time facing the New York Yankees and 40,000-plus in the stands," he said. "I think he was a little amped up for today's game."
Alex Rodriguez doubled with two outs in the first and was driven home on a Cano single. Raul Ibanez led off the second with his 10th home run of the season, and Rodriguez scored on a wild pitch by Braves rookie right-hander Delgado with the bases loaded in the third.
Nova cruised through the Braves lineup, and the Yankees are 10-2 in games he's started this season. Only when Nova balked in the fourth did the Braves advance a runner to second.
That third inning could have been a lot worse for the Braves. The Yankees had three consecutive bases-loaded opportunities with one out, but Delgado stuck out Ibanez and got Russell Martin to pop out. Delgado, the Braves' fifth starter, had run his pitch count to 110 (58 strikes) after five innings. He has pitched more than five innings only three times in his 12 starts this season.
"I think I gave them too much credit in the strike zone," Delgado said. "I was trying to make perfect pitches."
NOTES: Braves right-hander Tim Hudson threw 25 pitches in a bullpen session Monday afternoon and pronounced himself ready to start in Wednesday's game versus the Yankees. Hudson was scratched from Sunday's start versus the Blue Jays with left ankle soreness due to bone spurs. Manager Fredi Gonzalez hasn't yet decided how he'll re-slot the rotation after Thursday's scheduled off day. ... Gearrin was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett to fill the hole in the bullpen created when right-hander Kris Medlen was sent there to stretch out as a starter. The Braves have been down a reliever while maneuvering around slight injuries to catcher Brian McCann (flu), catcher David Ross (groin), first baseman Freddie Freeman (blurry vision) and infielder Jack Wilson (minor left hamstring issue).