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Friday, May 25th (All times Eastern)

New York Yankees (23-21) at Oakland Athletics (22-23), 10:05 p.m.

Probable Starting Pitchers: New York - Ivan Nova (4-2, 5.69) Oakland - Tyson Ross (2-4, 5.73)

(Sports Network) - Ivan Nova had no problem racking up strikeouts in his last trip to the mound. It was a victory that eluded the Yankees hurler.

Nova hopes for some better luck this evening as he tries to get New York off on the right foot in the opener of a three-game series against the Oakland Athletics.

The right-handed Nova struck out a career-high 12 batters versus the Reds on Saturday, but also allowed five runs or more for the third time in four starts. That led to his second setback in four outings since going 20 straight appearances without a loss.

While Nova was consistently missing bats, he couldn't avoid the barrel of Cincinnati's Joey Votto, who got a hold of a pitch for a three-run homer off the 25-year-old in the fifth inning. The defeat dropped Nova to 4-2 with a 5.69 earned run average in eight starts this year.

"I don't care about strikeouts," Nova told his team's official website. "I'm not pitching good. I don't like the way I'm pitching right now. I'm making a lot of mistakes, like the home run."

Nova faces the Athletics for the first time and can have some pressure relieved if Alex Rodriguez can get on a hot streak. The former MVP homered twice in Wednesday's 8-3 win over the Royals, with his first-inning two-run shot snapping a drought of 52 at-bats without a homer. He also hit a solo homer in the third, going deep for the first time since May 6.

"When you're in the middle of the order, your team expects you to come up with big hits," noted Rodriguez, who notched his first multi-homer game since last May 17. "I was tired of making the news for hitting a fly ball and stealing a base. I had to go back to what my bread-and-butter is."

Derek Jeter added three hits and Curtis Granderson homered with two runs scored for the Yankees, who took the final two games of the set after dropping six of seven overall. Andy Pettitte worked seven-plus innings, allowing seven hits and two runs while fanning eight.

"I'm trying to keep it as simple as I possibly can," Pettitte said of his approach on the mound. "I want to go out there, try and shut down the other team, let my guys get on the board first, set a tempo early, throw strikes. That's the game plan."

Another thing working in Nova's favor could be facing a struggling A's offense that is batting just .178 over its last 12 games while averaging 2.5 runs and 5.7 hits in that span. Oakland has been held to only four hits in back-to-back losses, getting three of those in Wednesday's 3-1 extra-inning defeat to the Angels.

Seth Smith snapped a string of 19 straight innings without a run for his team with a solo homer in the sixth and starter Jarrod Parker fanned eight batters over seven innings of one-run ball.

The Angels went ahead for good when Alberto Callaspo hit a two-run double in the top of the 11th and all three of Oakland's outs in the bottom of the frame were by strikeout, including Smith's game-ender with Josh Reddick on second.

"We're not stringing enough hits together and getting men on base," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "There are a lot of good pitchers in the league -- we can't keep using that excuse. We just have to swing the bats better."

Oakland has lost six of its last nine and will give 25-year-old Tyson Ross the start tonight.

Ross has lost four of his past five decisions, though he has only allowed five runs in his last three outings for a 2.55 ERA. Still, he took a 4-0 loss at the Giants on Saturday, charged with two runs on seven hits and four walks over six frames.

The right-hander is 2-4 with a 5.73 ERA in seven starts this year and has faced the Yankees twice before, both in relief.

The Yankees swept a three-game series in their only trip to Oakland last season and have taken six straight and 10 of their last 11 at the Coliseum. They are 13-3 in their past 16 encounters with the A's overall.

05/25 10:33:19 ET