Bronx, NY – Phil Hughes continued a solid June with eight scoreless innings, and the New York Yankees withstood a late Indians rally to post a 6-4 victory at Yankee Stadium.
Hughes (8-6) allowed six hits in his first scoreless outing of the year for the Yankees, who continue to win at a torrid pace. New York has now won four straight, 14 of 17 and 18 of 23 in June to move comfortably into first place in the AL East.
The Yanks' starting pitching has been the major reason for the success, and Hughes has been no stranger to it. Now a winner in four of his five starts this month, Hughes has allowed two or fewer runs in each of the four aforementioned victories.
He was happy to get the win on a night when he pitched well.
"That's the way it goes sometimes. Other times you have really good stuff and it's hit all over the place," Hughes said. "I'm happy with the way I located the ball."
Alex Rodriguez hit his 642nd career home run, and Rafael Soriano had to clean up a late mess and earned his 16th save with only two pitches.
Jose Lopez hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning for the Indians, who have now lost four straight, a season-worst. Justin Masterson (4-7) allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks in six innings but thought he threw the ball well enough for a better outcome.
"There were a lot of mis-hit balls and not real comfortable swings, which is exactly what you want. Somehow four runs got on the board," said Masterson. "I thought we were doing a lot better than that looked."
Hughes shook off a leadoff walk and retired six straight batters before a fortunate bounce led to a big Yankees second inning.
Mark Teixeira walked to start, and it was Nick Swisher who stood on first with two outs after a fielder's choice and a fly out. DeWayne Wise kept the inning alive with a single to right, sending Swisher to third easily.
Chris Stewart was up next, and he lofted a soft floater toward the third base line. Third baseman Jack Hannahan had been playing him off the line and tried his best to make a diving catch; however, the ball glanced off his glove and into foul territory, allowing Swisher to score the game's first run.
Derek Jeter, on his 38th birthday, followed with a fortuitous slow grounder for an infield single, loading the bases, and Curtis Granderson roped an opposite-field single to left to plate two more runs for an early 3-0 lead.
Cleveland put its first two batters on in the third, but Shin-Soo Choo grounded into a double play to erase the threat. The Indians barely threatened again with Hughes on the mound, and the New York offense provided some necessary insurance.
Teixeira's sacrifice fly in the fifth widened the Yankee lead to four, and Rodriguez's second-deck blast to left off Tony Sipp made it a 5-0 game. Stewart added a sacrifice fly off Nick Hagadone in the eighth to extend the lead further.
Hughes threw 111 pitches, and with a six-run lead, New York turned to Cory Wade to finish the game. He was greeted with a double by Jason Kipnis, though he retired the next two hitters.
Former Yankee Johnny Damon kept the game alive with an RBI single, and Casey Kotchman extended it again with a single to center. Lopez's three-run blast prompted manager Joe Girardi to call on Soriano, who induced a game-ending groundout from Lonnie Chisenhall.
Damon was the lone Indians player with two hits, and the team went 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position...Jeter, Swisher and Stewart were the Yankees with multi-hit games...Hannahan was ejected in the eighth inning for seemingly arguing about a faux diving catch Wise made where he leapt into the stands. Replays showed the ball deflected off Wise's glove and into the crowd, though it was ruled an inning-ending catch in the seventh...The Yankees are now 7-5 when Jeter plays on his birthday. He has at least one hit in 11 of the 12 games.