Javier Vazquez #31 of the New York Yankees throws out...

Javier Vazquez #31 of the New York Yankees throws out Mark Ellis of the Oakland Athletics in the fourth inning. (April 20, 2010) Credit: Getty Images

OAKLAND, Calif. - Joe Girardi wasn't ready to declare Javier Vazquez's start Tuesday night as being "big," and rightfully so.

It was, after all, only the righthander's third start of the season.

But for a pitcher booed off the mound in his most recent start at the Stadium, Girardi wasn't downplaying the outing, either.

"For Javy, this is not a make-or-break start," Girardi said. "But obviously, you want to get him going and you want him to feel comfortable and start throwing the ball the way he's capable."

Though victimized by two home runs and still without his typical fastball velocity, Vazquez, spotted a six-run lead, earned his first victory of the season in the Yankees' 7-3 win over the Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.

The victory, in which Joba Chamberlain displayed a 96-mph fastball in 1 1/3 scoreless innings that inched him closer to securing the setup role, was the Yankees' fifth straight.

Vazquez (1-2) went 51/3 innings, allowing three runs and six hits. His line would have looked much better had he gotten a better result with his 107th and final pitch, a 90-mph fastball Kurt Suzuki hammered out of the park for a two-run homer.

But the blast still left the Yankees with a 6-3 lead.

"It would be nice to get him a lead," Girardi said before the game. "Get him a few runs early to work with."

The Yankees did that in the first against lefty Gio Gonzalez, who ended up allowing five runs and three walks in 41/3 innings. He walked five and struck out five.

He was the victim of some bad luck in the first as, after retiring Derek Jeter and Nick Johnson, Mark Teixeira slapped a double down the leftfield line. He walked Alex Rodriguez, who hit a two-run homer later in the game, and Robinson Cano to load the bases but should have gotten out of the inning when Jorge Posada hit a sharp grounder to Daric Barton at first. The ball bounced off Barton's midsection and the first baseman had time to get Posada but he stumbled, allowing Posada to reach and Teixeira to score. The play was scored a hit.

Nick Swisher then snapped an 0-for-16 skid with a two-run single to make it 3-0.

Vazquez struck out two in the first inning, getting Kevin Kouzmanoff swinging to end the inning with a nasty 68-mph curve.

Vazquez didn't hit 90 mph with his fastball until his 26th pitch, a strike to Travis Buck in the second inning. Four pitches later, Vazquez escaped the jam he had created for himself - runners on second and third with none out - snaring Buck's line smash and doubling Mark Ellis off first.

The Yankees drove Gonzalez from the game with one out in the fifth as Johnson and Teixeira worked back-to-back walks and A's manager Bob Geren called for lefty Craig Breslow to face Rodriguez.

Rodriguez, who hit a game-winning two-run homer in the bottom of the 11th last May 11 off Breslow, then with the Twins, tore into Breslow's 2-and-1 pitch Tuesday night and slammed it well over the 388-foot sign in left-center. The three-run shot made it 6-0 and gave Rodriguez his 585th career home run, pulling him within one of Frank Robinson for seventh on the all-time list.

Buck cut Oakland's deficit to 6-1 in the bottom of the fifth, leading off with a home run to right and Suzuki's two-run shot with one out in the sixth made it 6-3 and ended Vazquez's night.

Boone Logan, called up when Chan Ho Park went on the 15-day DL with a hamstring strain, got the final two outs of the inning, and the first two of the seventh before loading the bases and giving way to Chamberlain.

Chamberlain struck out Kouzmanoff swinging at an 89-mph slider and struck out two of the three hitters he faced in the eighth. Damaso Marte started the ninth with a 7-3 lead but after walking the leadoff batter, Girardi called in Mariano Rivera, who easily retired the A's with a strikeout and a double play.

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