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NYM@NYY: Hughes pitches 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball

NEW YORK -- The spotlight of the Subway Series' first installment pulled into the station at just the right time for the Yankees, who happen to be playing their best baseball of the season thus far.

Mark Teixeira hit a key two-run homer to back another strong Phil Hughes effort, and the Yankees' bullpen locked down the final eight outs to secure a 4-2 victory over the Mets on Saturday in the Bronx.

"Starting pitching has been the key," said Teixeira, who cracked a go-ahead shot off Dillon Gee in the sixth inning. "That's baseball for you. We feel really good about our starting pitching right now, and because of that, we can just go out there, play defense and score enough runs to win the game."

The Yankees have won 12 of their last 16 games to move a season-high eight games over .500, as Hughes became the latest in a line of starters to get the job done. His outing improved the Bombers' starters to 6-1 with a 1.84 ERA over their last eight outings.

"You don't want to be the guy that lets it down," Hughes said. "You keep the roll going, and, thankfully, we've been getting some good starting pitching. The bullpen stepped up, and we've been scoring enough runs. We want to keep this going as long as we can."

Hughes has allowed at least one home run in each of his 12 starts this season, but he could absorb a pair of solo home runs -- one to Omar Quintanilla, the other to David Wright -- as the only damage over 6 1/3 innings, winning for the third time in four starts.

Curtis Granderson tracked down a deep seventh-inning drive to help Boone Logan before Cory Wade and Clay Rapada notched two outs apiece. Rafael Soriano pitched around trouble in the ninth for his ninth save in nine chances under manager Joe Girardi's new bullpen alignment.

"These guys have really stepped up," Girardi said. "We've asked guys to do things that probably in their careers they haven't done a lot of, and they've done a good job."

Of the relievers, Wade arguably got the biggest outs in the seventh. Hughes left a runner aboard with one out, and following Logan, Wade yielded a single to Kirk Nieuwenhuis before getting Andres Torres to fly out to left field.

"It's a team game," Wade said. "We're getting hits when we need to, we're getting outs when we need to, and that's part of the reason we're in the situation we're in."

The Yankees posted a first-inning lead on Gee as Derek Jeter singled to snap a personal 0-for-17 skid, then scored on Alex Rodriguez's ground ball single up the middle.

The play carried heavy-hitting implications for both stars; it marked Rodriguez's 1,917th career RBI, tying Eddie Murray for eighth place all-time, and also Jeter's 1,800th run scored, becoming just the 17th player in baseball history to reach that total.

Quintanilla homered off Hughes in the third inning for his first of the season, and Wright gave the Mets the lead in the sixth when he unloaded on a changeup for a solo blast, his eighth homer of the year.

"I'd like to blame it on the ballpark, but those were going out anywhere," Hughes said.

But Teixeira helped the Yankees clinch a weekend-series victory in the sixth with his 11th home run of the season, turning on a two-strike curveball and lining it into the right-field seats.

"This is a game we had a chance to win," Mets manager Terry Collins. "We have to keep the ball in the ballpark, and we haven't been able to do that the past two nights."

Teixeira said the Yankees are finally coming through the way they had been expected to.

"This is a home run-hitting team," Teixeira said. "We have guys up and down the lineup that have hit home runs. We have guys that have been doing it for a long time."

The blast put Hughes in position for a win following an outing in which he scattered six hits, walking two and striking out six. It was a successful followup to his last start, a complete game win in Detroit.

"It's nice to keep it going," Hughes said. "Obviously I made a couple of mistakes and would like to get a couple of pitches back, but that's the way it goes. Hopefully it's another start I can build off of."

Granderson belted an eighth-inning homer off Bobby Parnell, his team-leading 18th, to open up a two-run lead and snap an 18 at-bat hitless stretch.

It counted as a parting blow on a night when almost everyone seemed to pitch in a little bit.

"This team has 25 guys; there's really not one guy that has to go out and win it for us," Granderson said. "Everybody seems to come up big. "

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