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Javier Vazquez sharp as Yankees sink the Mets

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The World Series champion New York Yankees beat the New York Mets 2-1 on Friday but lost pitcher Javier Vazquez to a bruised finger after he had cruised through six one-hit innings.

Vazquez produced his sharpest display of the season and held the Mets hitless into the fifth inning at Citi Field until Angel Pagan looped a single into center field.

Making only his second start in 21 days, Vazquez exited after being hit on the right index finger as he dropped a sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning that moved Kevin Russo along to third base.

Russo collected his first RBIs in the majors with a two-run double in the seventh inning to help the Yankees draw first blood in the Subway Series with their cross-town rival and snap a three-game skid.

The Yankees, who have been hit by injuries this season, have beaten the Mets in five successive games, including four in a row at Citi Field.

"I'm making better pitches," Vazquez told reporters. "That's just the bottom line. When you're out there and you're pitching and you're competing, I think I'm making more quality pitches out there. It's helping."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi applauded the display by Vazquez, who walked two and struck out six in a 70-pitch outing.

"He picked up right where he left off," Girardi said. "He pitched well for us in Detroit, got a big out for us (against Boston) and he was great for us tonight.

VAZQUEZ ROLLING

"It wasn't a situation where I wanted to take him out of the game. He was rolling."

Girardi also paid tribute to the 25-year-old rookie Russo, who has been developing into a utility man at Triple-A.

"A big night," Girardi said. "We've talked about how, with injuries, guys have a chance to step up and show what they can do. And he had a great night for us."

Japanese pitcher Hisanori Takahashi, brought in for the injured Jon Niese, gave the Mets six gutsy innings in his first start in the majors but his team mates managed only four hits in the loss.

"I knew these guys from the TV," the 35-year-old Takahashi said through an interpreter. "But it's kind of scary to watch them face-to-face, so I didn't watch their faces."

Takahashi has been a rotation stalwart in his homeland and went 10-6 with a 2.94 ERA last season for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan's Central League.

(Writing by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles)