Yanks keep pace with O's behind Hughes' dandy

Yanks keep pace with O's behind Hughes' dandy

Yanks keep pace with O's behind Hughes' dandy
BOSTON -- The entertainment option of choice during the Yankees' visits to Fenway Park is usually whatever second-run movie is airing on cable, unless someone lands on football or golf while flicking around the dial.

Yet as the Yankees ride out this wild September pennant race, a full slate of baseball was on the menu on Thursday. After many players watched the Orioles take care of their business, Phil Hughes and the Yankees returned serve with a 2-0 victory over the Red Sox.

"We have to go out and win a game; that's it," Hughes said. "We can't be thinking about scoreboard watching or worrying about every single game. We have to go out and win every game that we can control."

The Yankees were in command of this one all the way, as Hughes fired 7 1/3 dominant innings and Derek Jeter tied Willie Mays on baseball's all-time hits list, logging New York's only run-scoring hit of the contest.

With the victory, the Yankees maintained their tie with the Orioles in the American League East after Baltimore defeated the Rays, 3-2, in 14 innings, refusing once again to yield sole possession of first place to the O's.

"I hope it lasts," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said, chuckling. "We have a resilient group. I've said it all along. We've been through a lot this year."

One thing the Yankees had been unable to do for nearly a month was string together back-to-back wins; New York hadn't logged consecutive victories since a three-game sweep of the Rangers from Aug. 13-15.

"How 'bout that?" Jeter said. "We're 1-0 in our last series. You cannot change anything that's happened. We're in first place for a reason. We've played pretty well for the majority of the season. 

"You're going to go up and down, and obviously we would've loved to have won all the series leading up to this point, but it wasn't the case. All we can control is how we're playing now, and we played well here."

Hughes marked his 100th career start by turning in one of his best outings of the year, challenging the Red Sox with excellent stuff. He said that the usually festive Fenway atmosphere didn't feel quite the same with the Red Sox not in the race.

"To be honest, the atmosphere was a little dull in here for the first time in a long time, because of the way the Red Sox season has gone this year," Hughes said. "If anything, it just felt like a normal game. We just had to go out and win."

After retiring the first 10 batters he faced, Hughes only permitted five hits, shutting Boston down through a superb 95-pitch effort. He pitched out of a first-and-third jam in the fourth inning and stranded two men aboard in the sixth.

"That's not their A-lineup; it's not the lineup that they saw themselves having this time of year," Hughes said. "But that doesn't make them any less dangerous. This is a tough park to play in and wacky things happen, so you can't take anything for granted."

From his perch in a Boston dugout that fell a season-low 16 games under .500, Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine didn't seem all that impressed with Hughes, who walked one and struck out seven.

"Well, Hughes pitched up in the strike zone and we couldn't lay off of it," Valentine said. "We made a lot of quick outs swinging at some of those pitches. We were a little immature in our approach at times."

Pedro Ciriaco opened the eighth inning by doubling off the Green Monster in left field, and Hughes was done one out later, but relievers Boone Logan and David Robertson came on to each record flyouts before Rafael Soriano pitched the ninth for his 38th save.

"It's definitely a confidence booster. We need all the good outings we can get," Robertson said.

The other snapshot of the game was the hobbled Jeter, limping down the first-base line and clapping his hands after connecting for New York's only run-scoring hit of the evening in the seventh inning.

"He was playing on probably about one ankle tonight, maybe one-and-a-quarter," Girardi said. "That's who he is. He's a fighter and he finds a way. He gets the big hit tonight, and it's impressive."

Convincing Girardi that he was fine to play despite a nagging bone bruise in his left ankle, Jeter delivered the 3,283rd hit of his career in the seventh inning off Boston's Junichi Tazawa, tying Mays for 10th place on the all-time list.

"It's pretty special if you think about it, but it's kind of hard to think about it now, because we're trying to win games -- especially this time of the year," said Jeter. "But I'd be lying to you if I didn't think it was special."

Andruw Jones had the other Yankees RBI off Boston starter Felix Doubront, who permitted four hits in 6 1/3 innings. The stretch doesn't get any less challenging for the Yankees, who now head home to greet the Rays at Yankee Stadium.

"It was great to win this series, it really was, but we start all over tomorrow when we get home," Jeter said. "Tampa [Bay] always plays us tough. They're a handful, so we have to be ready to play, because the teams we're playing want to beat us."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.