NEW YORK (AP) — Phil Hughes fought the 95 degrees on the thermometer with zeros on the scoreboard.
Hughes pitched eight efficient innings, Robinson Cano hit a tiebreaking two-run homer after wasting a chance with the bases loaded his first time up and the New York Yankees again rode the long ball to a 4-2 win Sunday over the Chicago White Sox for a series split between division leaders.
“He was throwing strikes, working quick,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. “It was good for us because it was hot out there. He was in control the entire game.”
Eric Chavez connected for a two-run drive off Gavin Floyd in the second inning, helping New York raise its major league-leading total to 124 home runs. The power surge helped make Hughes a winner on the Yankees’ 66th Old-Timers’ Day.
Coming off eight scoreless innings in his previous start, Hughes (9-6) gave up two runs in the first inning. He then settled in nicely to limit the hard-hitting White Sox to just three more hits over his final seven innings.
“Sometimes they’re not going to have their best stuff and they got to figure out a way to get through it,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “And that’s also a process, too — figuring out how to get through things. And today he did. That’s a good sign.”
Hughes followed Hiroki Kuroda and Ivan Nova in giving the Yankees three quality starts from a rotation that took a couple of big hits Wednesday — CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte went on the disabled list on the same day.
“It was great to see Phil pitch well today,” Sabathia said.
Freddy Garcia returns to the rotation Monday, starting for Pettitte. The lefty is out for at least two months with a broken leg.
Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 18th save in 19 chances this season.
Cano, elected an All-Star starter by the fans, has homered in nine of his last 14 games and entered Sunday hitting .367 in 13 games since June 17. But when he came up with the bases loaded and none out in the first inning he hit a tapper back to Floyd that was turned into a slick 1-2-3 double play. Cano has only one hit in 14 at-bats (.071) with the bases full this season.
“I don’t think about that,” Cano said of his struggles with the bases loaded. “It’s hard to do it all.”
Cano homered in the third off Floyd (6-8) and the Yankees won the final two games of the four-game series.
“This was a long, hot week, a lot of energy spent here,” Paul Konerko said. “When you win the first two games of a four-game set, you’d like to get that third game, but they’re a good club, obviously.”
Teammates Curtis Granderson and Jeter will join Cano as starters for New York in the All-Star game July 10 in Kansas City. Sabathia was voted onto the team by his peers but a groin strain will keep him sidelined. He said he would attend the game with his family, though.
Jeter went 1 for 5, dropping his batting average below .300 for the first time since April 8. He’s hitting .299 after being at .340 on June 1st and above .400 in May.
The AL Central-leading White Sox landed Adam Dunn, Konerko and Chris Sale on the AL squad. Right-hander Jake Peavy is among the five candidates for the final roster spot.
Alejandro De Aza led off the game with a sharp double and scored on Kevin Youkilis’ single, standing up and eluding the reach of catcher Russell Martin, who tried to make a swipe tag. There was reason De Aza was out of range: replays clearly showed he never stepped on home plate.
After two outs, Alex Rios singled home another run for a 2-0 lead.
Wiping his brow with his sleeve and tugging at his uniform after nearly every pitch in the 95-degree heat, Floyd pitched from behind in the count for much of his 5 1-3 innings.
He was also in trouble the moment his toe touched the rubber, giving up consecutive singles and a walk to start. But Cano grounded into a double play and Nick Swisher struck out to extend Floyd’s scoreless streak to 14 1-3 innings.
That would end in the second. Raul Ibanez led off with a single and Chavez connected for his sixth homer.
“Even though they got him a couple of times, he still pitched well,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. “He battled, got out of some tough spots, even in the first. We just couldn’t mount anything after that first inning.”
Cano lined a shot deep into the seats in the third, a batter after Mark Teixeira drew one of Floyd’s season-high five walks.
“Just take advantage when they throw a pitch over the plate,” Cano said.
NOTES: Ibanez cut his lip and broke a tooth when he hit his face on the bench avoiding a foul ball in the dugout. … White Sox RHP Phil Humber was scheduled begin an injury rehabilitation assignment with Triple-A Charlotte on Sunday. … Girardi said Sabathia should begin playing catch next week. … Yankees injured closer Mariano Rivera (torn knee ligament) was on the field before the Old-Timers’ game in shorts. He was wearing a light brace and said he felt good. … Chavez made two tough catches into the sun while playing third base.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.