Phil Hughes slipped on a sport jacket and grabbed his suitcase. A few lockers down, Derek Jeter checked his phone for last-minute messages.
Fresh off their best homestand in five years, the first-place New York Yankees packed up in their plush new clubhouse Sunday and got ready to take this winning show on the road.
Jeter hit a go-ahead single, Mariano Rivera earned a four-out save and New York beat the Oakland Athletics 7-5 to complete a 9-1 homestand.
“Our pitching staff deserves most of the credit,” Jeter said. “I think everyone in here feels good about this team.”
Robinson Cano had an early three-run double and the Yankees got a strong effort from the bullpen, increasing their AL East lead to 2½ games over Boston, which lost 6-2 at home to Baltimore.
New York bolted from the All-Star break with a stellar homestand that included seven games against last-place teams (Baltimore and Oakland) and three vs. AL Central-leading Detroit.
It was the most wins for the Yankees on a homestand since going 10-2 in June 2004. New York’s .900 winning percentage was its best this decade on a homestand of at least nine games.
“Pretty awesome,” reliever Brian Bruney said.
After winning for the 22nd time in 28 games, the Yankees hit the road for 19 of their next 26.
“We’re right where we want to be,” Hughes said. “We have to go on the road and expect to win. We want to go out there and win every single game. And really, with the guys in this room, we don’t feel like there’s any reason why we shouldn’t.”
Hughes provided more spotless relief — with help from Bruney and Rivera.
Brought in to protect a two-run lead in the seventh, Hughes struck out three of his first four batters before running into trouble in the eighth. The right-hander issued a one-out walk before Daric Barton’s double put runners on second and third.
Bruney, who has often struggled since returning from the disabled list, got the ball in a pressure situation for the first time in a while. He came through, too, striking out Mark Ellis.
“I think it’s a big stepping stone for him,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “Brian is a guy who has no fear.”
Girardi then went to Rivera, who retired pinch-hitter Nomar Garciaparra on a comebacker. That preserved Hughes’ scoreless streak, up to 23 1-3 innings. He has not allowed a run in his past 16 appearances.
The 39-year-old Rivera fanned two in a perfect ninth, converting his 25th consecutive save and 29th in 30 chances this season. It was No. 511 of his career.
“His game hasn’t changed much in a long while. Same guy, same results,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “The way he’s pitching now looks like he could go on forever.”
Phil Coke (2-3) got the win despite giving up a go-ahead homer in the sixth to Ellis, who had three RBIs.
Oakland starter Dallas Braden (7-9) was done in by a career-high six walks. He allowed seven runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings.
“Extremely poor,” Braden said. “Embarrassing performance.”
New York was clinging to a 4-3 lead in the sixth when Barton beat out a potential double-play ball, extending the inning. Coke then threw a low breaking ball that Ellis pulled into the left-field seats for his fourth homer, putting Oakland ahead.
That didn’t last long.
Melky Cabrera drew a one-out walk in the bottom half, Cody Ransom hit his second double and Jeter punched a two-run single to center.
Braden picked off Jeter at first, but Johnny Damon doubled and scored on Mark Teixeira’s single to make it 7-5.
“It’s pretty much a blueprint on how to get your team to hate you,” Braden said. “It was a total team effort to get us the lead and then I went out and gave it back. Then a total team effort to get us the lead back, then I went out and gave it away again.”
Sergio Mitre made his second start for the Yankees in place of injured Chien-Ming Wang. Helped by three double-play grounders, Mitre was pulled with a 4-3 lead after a leadoff single in the sixth.
NOTES: Seven of New York’s nine wins on the homestand were by two runs or fewer. … Wang (strained right shoulder) is scheduled to see Dr. James Andrews early this week. … Barton was removed for a pinch runner in the eighth because of a mild hamstring strain. He is day to day. … Slumping 3B Alex Rodriguez was rested, part of his regular program following March hip surgery. Ransom started at third. … The Yankees put speedy OF Brett Gardner (broken left thumb) on the 15-day DL and recalled reliever Jonathan Albaladejo from Triple-A. … It was New York’s 32nd comeback win this season.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.