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Yankees Win Again, Still Not in First by Themselves

Perhaps Dave Eiland's tweak to Javier Vazquez's pitching motion really made a difference. Perhaps the "dead arm" that had been bothering Vazquez is back to full strength. Or perhaps his performance during his last two outings is an inevitable correction after he pitched himself out of the rotation. But in any case, Vazquez last night gave Joe Girardi something else to think about as he maps out his rotation for the stretch run.

Girardi said after the game that there's a "continued evaluation process" with his staff and that right now, they're "on rotation." But Vazquez's fastball had life last night, and his breaking ball was even better over four-and-two-thirds innings of relief of Dustin Moseley, during which he allowed just one run and struck out six. Maybe Girardi will want to see more than two stellar outings before returning Vazquez to the rotation, but so far, the righty's done all he can to earn back his spot.

Vazquez also benefited last night from an offensive explosion: For the second time this year, the Yankees got to Trevor Cahill, who's otherwise having a pretty excellent season for Oakland. (His 2.82 ERA and 1.05 WHIP are both in the top three among A.L. starters.) Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup with three hits, and he and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back Yankee Stadium home runs in the third — both just cleared the right-field fence — before Marcus Thames capped a five-run fifth with his nightly home run to stretch the lead to 11-4. (They'd go on to win 11-5.)

The Yankees have won three straight, but still remain tied with Tampa Bay atop the East with identical 81-50 records. But both teams picked up a half-game last night on idle Boston, who fell to seven games back. Phil Hughes pitches tonight — this time without that safety net of Vazquez in the bullpen.

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Photo: Bill Kostroun/AP