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Saturday February 13th, 2016 3:54AM

Nova dominant into seventh, Yankees beat Braves

By The Associated Press
KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Ivan Nova pitched two-hit ball while working into the seventh inning for the first time this spring, and the New York Yankees beat the Atlanta Braves 7-0 Wednesday.

Nova didn't walk a batter and didn't allow a runner past second base. He said he felt like he could have kept going until he was pulled after allowing a double to Ryan Doumit.

"I expected to pitch six, but not into the seventh," Nova said. "I left feeling strong. This was a good day. I felt really comfortable."

Nova struck out five in 6 1-3 innings and lowered his ERA to 3.66 in his fifth start.

Carlos Beltran had three hits and drove in two runs and Adonis Garcia raised his spring batting average to .423 with two RBIs.

David Hale went 4 1-3 innings, allowing three runs and walking three. With injuries to several starters, Hale is in the mix for one of the final two spots in the rotation. He has a spring ERA of 5.11.

STARTING TIME

Yankees: Nova was asked if he feels like a veteran because he leads the team with five starts. He laughed at that one.

"I guess I've been here a while but do I feel like a veteran? No, no, no," Nova said. "But I have been here long enough to know what I am doing.'

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he had no problems letting Nova pitch into the seventh inning.

"He was getting batters out. I thought he looked great," Girardi said.

Braves: Hale knows he's under close scrutiny as the Braves try to scrape together a starting rotation. He was excited about facing much of the Yankees regular starting lineup.

"I grew up watching Derek Jeter," Hale said. "That was fun."

What wasn't fun were the walks. Hale had only walked two batters all spring but he was concerned after walking three against the Yankees.

"I know I have to cut down on the walks," Hale said. "I figured out what I was doing wrong and I need to make some corrections. Right now, I am absolutely where I want to be."

With a shot at one of the open spots in the rotation, Hale said he is trying to stay focused.

"You never want to see anyone get hurt, but it has given me an opportunity," Hale said.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: Outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury was out of the lineup for a second straight day nursing a sore right calf. Girardi said he is still day to day.

Braves: Kris Medlen had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday to repair his ulnar collateral ligament in his right pitching elbow. He is out for the season. ... First baseman Freddie Freeman returned to the lineup and went 0 for 3. He has been struggling with a bruised thumb.

McCANN RETURNS

Yankees catcher Brian McCann returned to the Braves' complex at Walt Disney World for the first time since signing a five-year, $85 million deal during the offseason. McCann spent nine years with the Braves, making seven All-Star appearances. He has fond memories of his time in Atlanta.

"I didn't come here for any reason but it was good to see the guys," McCann said. "I came to catch Nova. I am very grateful to the Braves. They made me the player I am today and I loved my time here."

Girardi said McCann is making a difference on and off the field.

"He goes out of his way to help the pitching staff," Girardi said. "He spends time with them off the field. You can learn a lot about a guy that way. He's becoming a leader to that staff."

TO THE RESCUE

The Braves signed Erwin Santana to a one-year, $14.1 million deal last week to fill the void in the starting rotation. After pitching several bullpens, Santana will make his first start in a Braves uniform on Thursday in Port St. Lucie against the New York Mets. Santana went 9-10 with a 3.24 ERA for the Kansas City Royals last season.
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