"It's definitely one of the best starts of my career," Phelps said. "To come in here against a team that's first in its division with one of the best records in baseball -- my biggest thing is going out and trying to give us a chance to win every time out."
The Yankees had lost their previous seven games at the Coliseum, but they got to Oakland right-hander Sonny Gray for three runs in the first two innings before Gray settled in to give his club a quality outing.
"We have very good hitters one through nine, and it's fun when guys are swinging the bats well, putting good at-bats together," Jacoby Ellsbury said. "I think that was the key tonight, just getting some big hits with runners in scoring position."
Phelps was one of the pitchers pushed into regular starting duty after injuries deleted CC Sabathia (out until at least July), Ivan Nova (out for the season) and Michael Pineda (out until August) from the starting five. He said that the Yankees haven't wasted time thinking about who they are replacing.
"Our job right now is to go out and win ballgames. We don't view ourselves as fill-ins," Phelps said. "That's what it essentially was, but at the same time, we've made enough starts right now that it's what we're going to be throwing out there every fifth day."
Phelps had not looked particularly sharp of late, losing four straight starts and posting a 6.57 ERA over that span. The A's, despite owning the second-best record in the Majors, couldn't figure him out.
Oakland did not notch a hit until Derek Norris blooped a jam-shot single to left field with one out in the fifth inning. Phelps surrendered only one well-struck hit, Jed Lowrie's double on the righty's last pitch of the game, as he walked three and struck out four.
"He didn't really get himself into any trouble," the A's Brandon Moss said. "For as well as he pitched, he threw a lot of balls, usually we take advantage of that. Anytime when we would get the pitch count up, we always seemed to have two strikes. We'd get a guy on and just couldn't get anything going."
New York opened the first inning with three straight hits off Gray, with Ellsbury knocking a run-scoring single that extended his hitting streak to 17 games -- the longest active streak in the Majors. Mark Teixeira added a sacrifice fly.
In the second inning, Brian Roberts legged out an infield hit and scored on Brett Gardner's single to center field. Gray clamped the damage there and cruised until Ichiro Suzuki singled in the sixth, with Oakland's ace finishing with a walk and seven strikeouts over six innings.
"He started making some quality pitches," Ellsbury said. "I know his slider is very good. He made some quality pitches on our guys with two strikes to strike guys out. He got locked in there for a while."
Dellin Betances recorded the last out of the seventh and pitched the eighth. Jose Ramirez finished up the ninth as the Yankees protected the lead with hitless relief.
The Yankees added four two-out runs in the seventh off A's lefty Jeff Francis, turning the game into a rout as Ichiro, Roberts and Kelly Johnson knocked in run, giving New York six different players with RBIs.
"That's the recipe for scoring enough runs, and that's what you need to do at times," manager Joe Girardi said. "Through all this, I think guys have kept at it. They've had their struggles, but guys have kept at it, and maybe we're getting them all hot."