Yanks' Hughes flirts with no-no

OAKLAND - Phil Hughes took a no-hit try into the eighth inning Wednesday night, losing his bid when Eric Chavez bounced a hard comebacker off the pitcher's side in the New York Yankees' 3-1 win over the Oakland Athletics.

Hughes (2-0) struck out a career-high 10 in the Yankees’ sixth straight win. He was in complete control until Chavez opened the eighth with a one-hopper back to the mound.

Hughes had little time to react and the ball hit near his glove, around his left hip. The 23-year-old righty couldn’t find the ball in front of the mound as Chavez hustled for a single.

This was the second near-miss for the defending World Series champions this season. CC Sabathia held Tampa Bay hitless for 72/3 innings on April 10.

Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez pitched the majors’ only no-hitter of 2010 – so far – on Saturday at Atlanta.

Hughes, a right-hander, was trying for the Yankees’ first no-hitter since David Cone’s perfect game against Montreal on July 18, 1999. Hughes had come close before — in 2007, during his second major league start, he had a no-hitter going through 6 innings at Texas before he suddenly hurt his left hamstring and had to leave the game.

Hughes won the fifth spot in the Yankees’ rotation by pitching well in spring training, and his outing at Oakland was his best performance this season. After a one-out walk to Daric Barton in the first inning, Hughes retired 20 straight batters before Chavez’s infield hit.

Overall, Hughes gave up only one hit in 7 innings and walked two. He shut down the A’s by pounding the zone with his spot-on fastball and mixing in an effective curveball. He quieted the crowd of 30,211 for much of the chilly, breezy spring evening in the Bay Area. It was Hughes’ first career start against Oakland.

Two batters after Chavez got aboard, Hughes walked Gabe Gross and was done. He was charged with Oakland’s lone run in the standout 101-pitch performance after pinch-hitter Jake Fox had an RBI single off Joba Chamberlain.

Mariano Rivera finished the three-hitter for his sixth save in as many chances.

Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano hit back-to-back triples to start the fourth off Ben Sheets (1-1). Jorge Posada followed Cano’s hit with an RBI groundout. Brett Gardner’s RBI single with two outs in the ninth provided an insurance run.