OAKLAND, Calif. -- Javier Vazquez is still trying to find his groove. He felt much better in his latest start, however, throwing crisp breaking pitches and a fastball that didn't slow down as he worked deeper into the game.
That's what the New York Yankees were hoping to finally see from the man they acquired in an offseason trade with Atlanta to be their No. 4 starter.
|All-time HR leaders|
|1. Barry Bonds||762|
|2. Hank Aaron||755|
|3. Babe Ruth||714|
|4. Willie Mays||660|
|5. Ken Griffey Jr.-y||630|
|6. Sammy Sosa||609|
|7. Frank Robinson||586|
|8. Alex Rodriguez-y||585|
|9. Mark McGwire||583|
|10. Harmon Killebrew||573|
Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer, Vazquez showed signs of the form that made him a 15-game winner last season and the Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics 7-3 on Tuesday night for their fifth consecutive victory.
"He's going to be fine. We're not concerned about Javy, man," A-Rod said. "He gave us a good shot. It was important for him to get a nice win and hopefully get some rhythm going from here."
Nick Swisher hit a two-run single against his former team and Jorge Posada also singled home a run in New York's three-run first inning against Gio Gonzalez (1-1). The reigning World Series champions carried the momentum from a 5-1 homestand as they kicked off a nine-game, 10-day road trip that also takes them to Anaheim and Baltimore.
A-Rod's drive to the top of the elevated stands in left-center came against reliever Craig Breslow in the fifth, giving the slugger 585 career home runs. Rodriguez's second of the year also moved him within one of tying Frank Robinson for seventh place on the career list.
Swisher came up with a big hit after a 1-for-19 homestand and said, "I finally found some grass."
The patient Yankees also drew 10 walks.
"We outhit them and we outhomer them and the game isn't really that close," A's manager Bob Geren said. "Walks told the whole story. If you don't throw strikes they will make you pay one way or the other."
Kurt Suzuki hit a two-run homer and Travis Buck had a solo shot for the surprising first-place A's, who were coming off their first off day of the season after playing 14 straight to start the year.
Vazquez (1-2), who entered his third 2010 start with a 9.82 ERA, allowed three runs and six hits in 5 1/3 innings, struck out six and walked three.
"My mechanical stuff still is off but it was an improvement from my first couple starts," Vazquez said. "That's my weakness, mechanics, through my career. I just need to get it back. The first two games were tough. I can't hide that, but it's still early in the season and there are still a lot of games to be played."
Boone Logan relieved to make his Yankees debut, but the game was delayed 13 minutes right after he took the mound when plate umpire Ed Rapuano left after taking an earlier foul ball from Kevin Kouzmanoff on the chin. Rapuano was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital for a CT scan, but the A's said he was alert when he left the ballpark.
Joba Chamberlain entered with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh and struck out Kouzmanoff. After Damaso Marte walked pinch-hitter Jake Fox to start the ninth, Mariano Rivera relieved and finished it.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi was encouraged by Vazquez's outing.
"We think he's going in the right direction," Girardi said. "I like the way he finished. I think it's important for him to get that under his belt."
Derek Jeter returned to the New York lineup after missing Sunday's series finale against Texas with a cold. He also came out of Saturday's game early because he felt ill. He went 0 for 5 with a strikeout.
Eric Chavez doubled and singled but Vazquez otherwise had his way with most of Oakland's lineup until Buck led off the fifth with his first home run. Suzuki connected in the sixth.
A's first baseman Daric Barton, who left Sunday's loss to Baltimore with a bruise above his right elbow, was in the lineup after an MRI exam Monday showed no structural damage. Second baseman Mark Ellis also returned after missing the previous seven games with a left hamstring injury but was replaced on defense in the sixth because of soreness in the hamstring.
The announced crowd of 19,849 -- it wasn't nearly that high -- was dismal considering the Yankees typically draw well when they visit the Bay Area.
Yankees ace CC Sabathia, back home in his native Northern California, threw out the ceremonial first pitch Monday night at the North Vallejo Little League Spring Classic on a field his foundation helped rebuild. ... Oakland reliever Michael Wuertz, on the DL with shoulder tendinitis, will pitch a third rehab outing for Triple-A Sacramento on Wednesday.