NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees have an awareness that left-hander Vidal Nuno's stuff is not going to overwhelm hitters. They also believe that he has many traits that can make him effective at times.
Friday was one of those instances for Nuno as he pitched 5 2/3 effective innings and combined with three relievers on a three-hitter in New York's 6-0 victory over the Boston Red Sox.
The Yankees beat the Red Sox for the sixth time in eight games by getting two-run home runs from third baseman Kelly Johnson and catcher Brian McCann as well as a solo home run from left fielder Brett Gardner and a sacrifice fly by first baseman Mark Teixeira.
As nice as it was to get offense that produced three home runs for the fifth time this season and first time since May 17 against Pittsburgh, Nuno was the dominant topic, especially since many Yankee fans wanted him pulled from the rotation even if the team does not have anyone in the minors they believe is ready while CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda rehab injuries.
"He fights," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "It's not a guy that throws 95. It's not a guy with a wipeout slider. It's a guy that just goes out and competes and finds a way to get it done.
"He's beaten a lot of the odds in a sense where he's had to almost start over and come back and work his way up. He throws strikes. You know that he's going to throw strikes. You know that he doesn't get intimidated by the situation. I like that about him and he's very even-keeled but he gives you everything he's got every time he goes out."
Nuno won for the first time in nine starts since May 7 by allowing a leadoff single to left fielder Jonny Gomes in the second and a one-out double to right fielder Brock Holt in the third. He struck out five, walked two and held second baseman Dustin Pedroia, designated hitter David Ortiz and first baseman Mike Napoli hitless in a combined seven at-bats.
Nuno, whom missed most of last season with a groin injury said that he did not shake off catcher Brian McCann once. He spent most of his 13th start throwing four-seam fastballs while mixing in sliders and doing so without trying to overpower hitters, which is what he said was among the causes for some of his previous sub-par outings.
"It's been a grind this year," Nuno said. "Coming from last year's injury, having those months off and trying to figure out what kind of pitcher I am, sometimes I've been trying to over stride, trying to overpower and just kind of do stuff that isn't my typical (way) of doing and leaving the balls up in the zone and just making mistakes. So I really didn't make any make mistakes (tonight)."
"When I do that the ball gets elevated and cutting weren't spinning as I wanted (them) to be. It was like loopy and like that but it was just a work in progress."
Nuno exited to a standing ovation after issuing a two-out walk to Ortiz in the sixth and the Yankees bullpen took over from there. Dellin Betances pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings, Adam Warren tossed a perfect eighth and Matt Thornton did the same in the ninth to finish off New York's sixth shutout.
"When he's on he's as comfortable and easy to play behind as anyone," Johnson said of Nuno.
Right-hander Brandon Workman (1-1) returned from a six-game suspension for throwing near Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria on May 30 and allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings.
The Red Sox were shut out for the seventh time this season, did not get a runner to third and dropped to 2-6 on a 10-game road trip and lost after arriving from Seattle early Thursday morning, which is something they pointed out after dropping to 36-44.
"It's pretty bad, man, it's pretty bad," Ortiz said. "Not using that as an excuse, but we are human and we go everywhere to play. You need energy. My 18-year career, I've never seen that ... that doesn't help."
The Yankees took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when Teixeira's sacrifice fly to left field scored Jeter. New York was unable to get more as designated hitter Carlos Beltran grounded out on the next pitch.
The Yankees nearly made it 2-0 in the second inning, but Holt leapt over the top of the right field wall to take a home run away from second baseman Brian Roberts.
Johnson drove a 1-1 fastball from Workman into the right field seats for a 3-0 lead with one out in the fourth. The Yankees then went up 4-0 on a solo home run by Gardner and capped the scoring on McCann's ninth home run in the eighth against left-hander Craig Breslow.
NOTES: The Red Sox said OF Shane Victorino (right hamstring) and 3B Will Middlebrooks (right index finger) are shut down from baseball activities. Boston also moved LHP Felix Doubront into the bullpen for the time being. ... The Yankees said LHP CC Sabathia (right knee) will make a rehab start for Class A Tampa Bay on Saturday. The belief is that Sabathia will need at three starts before returning to the majors. He will begin start with a pitch count of 40 to 45 Saturday. ... New York also said RHP Michael Pineda (right shoulder) will play catch Saturday, a week after his originally scheduled throwing session.