BALTIMORE -- Ivan Nova rejects the idea that he could step in as the Yankees' stopper this year, killing losing streaks with regularity. With this club behind him, the hurler doesn't expect to have many opportunities to snap long skids.
The Yankees needed a strong performance from Nova to end a season-opening three-game slide, however, and they got one. With Nova's effort backed by four Derek Jeter hits and an Andruw Jones homer, the Bombers defeated the Orioles on Monday, 6-2.
"I think everything was working," Nova said. "Everything was like I wanted, so I feel good about it. To start the season with three losses in a row and win our first game of the year, it feels really good."
Hoping to avoid their first 0-4 start since 1973, the Yankees rode seven solid innings from Nova, who outpitched Baltimore counterpart Brian Matusz and washed away the remnants of a discouraging spring.
Nova limited the Orioles to two runs -- the first of which came on a Matt Wieters home run in the second inning -- and permitted 10 hits, walking none and striking out seven.
"Every time out, he's the same," Jeter said. "He had a lot of success last year. I thought his confidence got a little bit better there last season, the more success he had. It carried into today's game, but he pretty much has the same demeanor every time."
A 16-game winner last year, Nova struggled with his command during Spring Training, posting an 8.06 ERA, but the Yankees were encouraged by the right-hander's last bullpen sessions before his season debut.
"I took the spring to work on what I needed to work on," Nova said. "I took that and put it in the game today and got good results. That's what we have to keep doing."
Catcher Russell Martin said that Nova put his fastball on both sides of the plate, snapped his curveball well and sprinkled in sliders to get ahead of hitters, calling his approach "relentless."
Baltimore dinged Nova in the seventh for back-to-back doubles by Wilson Betemit and Chris Davis, but Nova was able to clamp the damage there.
"He's got good stuff," said Wieters, who collected four hits for the O's. "He did a good job of scrambling the hits a little bit. We were able to get some hits, but just not put them together for the big inning."
Coming off a three-game series sweep at the hands of the Rays at Tropicana Field, the Yankees got rolling quickly in the Inner Harbor.
Jeter led off the game with a single off Matusz and came around to score on Mark Teixeira's RBI single.
New York added three runs in the fourth off Matusz, as two walks set up a Martin RBI single, an Eduardo Nunez sacrifice fly and Jeter's third hit of the game, a run-scoring double to right field.
"Just a great at-bat -- he swung at good pitches," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Jeter. "He hit some line drives. He just did it all tonight."
Matusz, who was also hit hard by the Yankees in two appearances last year, lasted just four innings. He permitted six hits, walking four and striking out one.
In the lineup because of a left-handed opposing starter, Jones connected for his first homer of the season off right-hander Darren O'Day, launching a solo shot in the sixth inning to open up a four-run Yankees lead.
"I thought our guys were pretty loose today, and that's what I want," Girardi said. "I want our guys relaxed and playing the game the way it's supposed to be played. I'm sure everyone exhaled a little bit."
Brett Gardner added a run-scoring single off Troy Patton in the seventh, while David Robertson and Mariano Rivera tossed scoreless frames to close out New York's first win of the year.
"It's good to get the first anything of the season -- whether it's the first hit, the first RBI, first anything -- first win," Jeter said. "So it was good for us to get the win."
There were brief fireworks after the final out was recorded, as Martin was seen jawing with Baltimore's Robert Andino. One Yankee said that Martin believed Andino was relaying pitch locations on Rivera's cutter in the ninth inning.
Martin danced around questions when pressed on the topic, calling it just "a little yapping session" between himself and the Baltimore second baseman. Girardi said it was "boys were being boys."
The dust-up paled in comparison to the real event the Yankees cared about, which was being able to celebrate something on the field for the first time in 2012.
"It's nice to shake hands again," Teixeira said. "You go all winter, and in Spring Training, not many of us are there in the ninth inning to shake hands, so it's nice to go through the line again."