Yankees Robinson Cano hits a two run home run in...

Yankees Robinson Cano hits a two run home run in the fifth inning, his second home run of the game. (April 15, 2010) Credit: Photo by Kathy Kmonicek

Robinson Cano, who was named for Jackie Robinson and wears uniform No. 24 in his honor, switched to 42 last night - as did every player in baseball on Jackie Robinson Day.

But not every player got to present flowers to Robinson's widow, Rachel, and daughter, Sharon. That honor was Cano's (along with Marcus Thames) before the Yankees-Angels game at Yankee Stadium.

Cano then continued his sizzling hitting with two home runs and three RBIs as the Yankees beat the Angels, 6-2. "I wish she comes here every day," Cano said of Mrs. Robinson, whom he had met once before.

Cano (2-for-4) is batting .395 with four home runs and nine RBIs and has totally taken to the fifth spot in the order. "It just made our lineup tougher to navigate," manager Joe Girardi said. "And I always believed he could do it. He's matured as a person, he's matured as a player."

Cano's home runs came against Scott Kazmir; it was the first time Cano has homered twice off lefthanded pitching in the same game. "I feel great," he said. "I've been working in the cage, extra hitting, and it's been working pretty good."

Winning pitcher Phil Hughes threw five innings-plus in his first start of the season. He allowed two runs, three hits and five walks with six strikeouts.

"It wasn't really a great outing," Hughes said. "The walks kind of put a damper on things, but work around them."

Derek Jeter homered and drove in two runs and Curtis Granderson had two triples and threw out Hideki Matsui at the plate as the Yankees won the rubber match of the series to improve to 6-3. They have taken two of three in each of three series against three of the American League's top teams, starting at Boston and at Tampa Bay.

Hughes was not present for part of that road trip. After he won the fifth-starter battle in spring training, the Yankees kept him on the big-league roster but had him throw simulated games in the Florida sun.

For all of the talk about his development of a changeup in spring training - and boy, was there a lot of talk about it - he threw only five out of a career-high 108 pitches. He said the scouting report indicated the Angels are a good changeup-hitting team, and he felt his fastball was crisp enough to keep using it.

Four of the changeups were to Matsui, who homered on a fastball leading off the second. It was Matsui's first hit in 10 at-bats in his return to the Bronx and gave the Angels a 1-0 lead.

Many in the crowd of 44,722 gave him a standing ovation as he rounded the bases. "As they should," Hughes said. "He did a lot for this team."

Cano tied the score with a home run to right leading off the bottom of the second against Kazmir, who also was making his season debut.

Jeter homered to right leading off the third to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Granderson's RBI triple and Jeter's run-scoring double in the fourth made it 4-1, and Cano's two-run blast in the fifth gave Hughes a five-run cushion.

David Robertson, who gave up a ninth-inning grand slam to Bobby Abreu on Tuesday, allowed an inherited runner to score but struck out three in 12/3 scoreless innings. Damaso Marte got two outs and Joba Chamberlain four. Chamberlain had a chance for his first save since Sept. 23, 2007, but Jeter couldn't glove Erick Aybar's bouncer with two outs in the ninth. It was scored a single.

With two men on in the ninth, Girardi called on Mariano Rivera - the only player who still wears No. 42 every day - to close out the game. Rivera retired Bobby Abreu on a grounder to - who else? - Cano for his fourth save.

More Yankees headlines

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months