Yankees 4 Nationals 1
- Last Updated: 10:47 AM, June 18, 2012
- Posted: 12:42 AM, June 18, 2012
WASHINGTON — When the Yankees dropped into the nation’s capital, the Nationals were gushing about their first-place standing in the NL East and touting stud rookie Bryce Harper as a possible All-Star.
After getting swept by the sizzling Yankees in three games the Nationals remain atop the NL East but the psyche has to be bruised and Harper was exposed as a teenager with plenty to learn.
Paced by the latest solid outing from Ivan Nova and home runs by Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano, the Yankees boarded a north-bound train after a 4-1 victory that was witnessed by 41,442 at Nationals Park.
“You want to play well and for the most part we have been playing good for a long time,’’ Derek Jeter said of the AL East-leading Yankees, who are riding a season-high nine-game winning streak and have won 14 of 16. “It doesn’t mean you are always going to win, but it’s a lot more fun.’’
The weekend was nothing close to fun for the Nationals.
In arguably the Nationals’ biggest regular-season series ever, they turned into another inter-league road kill specimen for the Yankees, who are 9-0 against NL Least members Mets, Braves and Nationals this season. They welcome the Braves, whom they swept in Atlanta last week, into The Bronx for three games starting tonight.
The Nationals went 4-for-24 (.167) with runners in scoring position, made four errors and were charged with two passed balls in three games.
Harper, the 19-year-old outfield sensation, went 3-for-15 (.200) with two singles and a double, was hitless in three at-bats with runners in scoring position and whiffed six times.
Nova (9-2) won his fifth straight and the nine wins lead the AL. He is undefeated in his last 15 road starts and is 12-0 with a 3.17 ERA.
“The days we don’t score too many runs and you can keep the team close are big,’’ said Nova, who allowed one run and seven hits in 7 2/3 innings. “That was my job today. It was amazing.’’
Cano not only helped with a solo homer in the seventh, he turned Danny Espinoas’s one-hop smash up the middle in the fourth into a 4-6-3 double play that kept the score tied, 1-1.
Girardi removed Nova with two outs and a runner on first in the eighth. In came lefty Boone Logan to face lefty-swinging Adam LaRoche, who had homered in the first and doubled in the fourth.
Rafael Soriano worked a perfect ninth for his 13th save in 14 chances.
The victory, which was accomplished despite the Yankees going 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position, kept the Yankees 1 1/2 lengths ahead of the Orioles in the AL East.
“You have to find another way to win,’’ Jeter said of the RISP woes which came after the Yankees went 3-for-18 in Saturday’s 14-inning gig. “It’s baseball, sometimes you struggle and sometimes you win.’’
When your starting pitchers’ ERA is 1.97 for June, that’s another way to win.
“The pitching staff is why we are here today,’’ said Mark Teixeira, who went 3-for-4 and drove in the Yankees’ first run in the opening inning.
Nine-for-nine against the Mets, Braves and Nationals isn’t a reason to ice the champagne. But the pitching has been too good for too long to believe it’s a mirage, either.
With the Braves and Mets on tap for the next six games it enhances the Yankees’ chances of getting fat against lineups that can’t match theirs, no matter that they are hitting .216 in the clutch.Follow @NYPostsports