Nova superb in fourth Bucs victory

Starter allowed one run over six frames, exited due to hamstring discomfort

Nova superb in fourth Bucs victory

MILWAUKEE -- A change of scenery -- and a move to the National League -- has done Ivan Nova a world of good.

Before exiting with left hamstring discomfort, Nova threw six strong innings to help the Pirates move to one-half game back of the Cardinals for the second NL Wild Card spot by completing a four-game sweep of the Brewers with a 3-1 victory Sunday.

"We were very pleased with that effort," Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said. "Man, he got out there and got after it after a nine-inning outing last time out. He was pitch-efficient again. You look at the scoreboard after four innings, and he's thrown 12 balls. It was really fun to watch."

Nova began experiencing discomfort in his left hamstring in the fifth inning. He pitched a scoreless sixth, but he decided to speak up to Hurdle with his turn to bat due up second in the top of the seventh.

"I was trying not to think about [it]," Nova said. "I was trying to keep making my pitches. It was my first time experiencing something like that, so I decided to tell the manager."

Acquired by the Pirates from the Yankees at the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline in exchange for two players to be named later, Nova has provided Pittsburgh's rotation with a significant lift.

Nova began the season in New York's bullpen before moving into the rotation in early May. He had a 4.86 ERA in 15 starts for the Yankees and a 4.90 ERA overall.

Since joining the Pirates, Nova is 4-0 with a 2.87 ERA in five starts.

National League teams have always struggled against the 29-year-old, as Nova is now 11-3 with a 2.88 ERA in his career against Senior Circuit teams.

"They brought me here for a reason, to help them win games," Nova said. "You have to make sure that's your main focus on the mound. The days I have had [in Pittsburgh] have been great so far."

Coming off a complete-game win over Houston on Aug. 23, Nova admitted his arm was a bit slow early on Sunday, something that was pointed out to him by catcher Francisco Cervelli.

Nova hung a curveball that Jonathan Villar hit for a solo home run in the third but picked it up from there, retiring 10 of the final 11 batters he faced.

"A lot of curveballs weren't tight, I mean early, in the first inning," Hurdle said. "He hung the breaking ball that was hit out of the ballpark, but that happens from time to time.

"I thought there was a little rust early, and then he hit a switch around pitch 15-20. The arm got quick, the sinker came back again and the breaking ball came into play."

Nova doesn't believe the hamstring injury is serious enough to keep him from his next start, which is important for the Pirates with Gerrit Cole's status in limbo.

Andrew Gruman is a contributor to MLB.com based in Milwaukee. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.