OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Yankees didn't have much success against the first two rookie pitchers they saw in the series and a third was on deck Saturday night.

"They're young and they're throwing the ball well and they're locating," Joe Girardi said generally of the A's rotation, before focusing on that night's challenge, righthander Jarrod Parker. "We need [Parker] to make some mistakes and we can't miss them."

Overall there weren't many as Phil Hughes and Parker hooked up in an unlikely duel, but the former made two critical ones that turned into long A's home runs.

With Parker turning in a stellar outing, those mistakes were enough to do in Hughes and the Yankees in a 2-1 loss to the red-hot A's in front of 28,142 at the O.co Coliseum.

"Obviously I would have loved to go eight scoreless or nine scoreless but those two mistakes, it's tough," said Hughes, who allowed two runs and four hits in 72/3 innings. "But with our offense I'll take that every day. Their guy did extremely well. Sometimes that happens."

The home runs came first off the bat of the still-smoking Yoenis Cespedes (19-for-33 with four homers his last nine games) and then Brandon Inge. Inge's opposite-field shot to right-center to lead off the eighth provided the final margin.

advertisement | advertise on newsday

It was a third straight one-run loss for the Yankees (57-37), who will try to avoid a four-game sweep this afternoon when CC Sabathia takes on Bartolo Colon, who wore the pinstripes a season ago.

The Yankees will play that game, as they did Saturday night, without rightfielder Nick Swisher, who was injured running out a grounder on Friday. Girardi said an MRI yesterday showed a "mild strain" of Swisher's left hip flexor, which was expected. The manager said, "I don't know if we'll see him in Seattle," referring to the series that begins tomorrow against the Mariners.

The Yankees, whose streak of scoring three runs or more ended at 43 with Friday's 3-2 loss, are in a mini-slump, put there by three Oakland rookies who have combined to allow three runs in 21 innings in the first three games.

"The good thing is we're pitching well," Girardi said. "And we know our bats will eventually wake up again.''

Hitters mentioned the tough shadows prevalent the first six innings Saturday night -- the game started at 6 p.m. local time -- but weren't taking away from Parker (7-4, 3.00), who allowed one run and five hits in eight innings.

Yankees videos

"This team has always thrown strikes," Mark Teixeira said of the Oakland starters challenging the Yankees in the strike zone throughout the first three games. "I've been playing for 10 years. When their young guys come up, they're always throwing strikes."

The A's (50-44), who improved to an MLB-best 13-2 in July, brought an AL-low 3.40 ERA into Saturday night, despite having seven rookies on their 12-man staff.

Not wanting closer Ryan Cook to work a fourth straight game, A's manager Bob Melvin had rookie lefty Sean Doolittle come on in the ninth to close. He allowed a leadoff single to Alex Rodriguez but no more. He struck out Robinson Cano, ending the second baseman's career-high 23-game hitting streak, and stranded A-Rod at second to end the game.

"They've been aggressive and you have to give them credit the first three games," Cano said. "We have to try and forget about it, come out tomorrow and try to win a game.''