By JOSEPH WHITE, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ivan Nova pitched effectively into the eighth inning to win his fifth straight start, Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano hit solo homers, and the New York Yankees beat the on-the-rise Washington Nationals 4-1 Sunday to complete a sweep of the series between division leaders.
Nova (9-2) gave up seven hits and a run in an efficient, mostly trouble-free 7 2-3 innings, keeping him unbeaten in his last 15 road starts — a streak that's been going for more than a year. He is 12-0 away from Yankee Stadium since losing to the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim on June 3, 2011.
Granderson homered off Edwin Jackson (3-4) in the fifth to break a 1-1 tie. Cano made it a two-run cushion in the seventh off Tom Gorzelanny as the Yankees won their ninth straight, their longest winning streak since May 2009.
They've also won seven in a row on the road and have swept three consecutive series of three games or more for the first time since 1998.
Nova was pulled with two outs and a runner on base in the eighth. Boone Logan finished the inning, and Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect ninth for his 13th save.
The Yankees maintained a 1½ game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East. The Nationals also remain in first — four games clear of the Atlanta Braves in the NL East — but they hit a buzz saw against New York, getting swept at home for the first time this season and scoring only six runs in the three games.
Jackson was constantly having to battle, allowing seven hits with three walks over six innings. The Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the first inning, but scored only one run on Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly. Jackson also pitched out of a second-and-third, one-out jam in the sixth.
The Yankees picked up another run in the seventh when Teixeira doubled and eventually scored on a passed ball by Nationals catcher Jhonatan Solano, who had another passed ball later in the inning. Teixeira went 3 for 4 with a pair of doubles.
Washington's only run came when Adam LaRoche led off the second with his 12th homer. LaRoche also doubled to lead off the fourth, but he didn't have the speed to score on Ian Desmond's single to right and was left stranded by an inning-ending double play.
Nineteen-year-old Bryce Harper, who went 0 for 7 with five strikeouts in Saturday's 14-inning loss, rebounded with a double and a single. Still in a slump is Ryan Zimmerman, who went 0 for 4 in the game and 1 for 13 in the series to drop his average to .229.
NOTES: The sweep leaves the Cincinnati Reds (7-5) as the only major league team with an all-time winning record against the Yankees. ... Desmond booted a grounder in the fourth, giving him an error in each game of the series. ... Yankees OF Nick Swisher sat out with a bruised quad sustained on a slide into home in Saturday's game. ... The Nationals designated struggling reliever Brad Lidge for assignment. Lidge, 35, went 0-1 with two saves and a 9.64 ERA in 11 appearances and gave up five runs in the first two games of the Yankees series. ... Ryan Mattheus, activated to take Lidge's roster spot, pitched 1-3 inning Sunday.
Joseph White can be reached at http://twitter.com/JGWhiteAP
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