Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer, Alfredo Aceves earned his majors-leading eighth win as a reliever and New York wrapped up a stretch of 33 games in 34 days with a 3-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday night.
"We know we're going to lose a few games," Teixeira said. "We just can't let one turn into two or three in a row. We've done a better job of that lately. ... I think we all know the opportunity we have and we don't want to let an opportunity slip away to win games, gain ground and get to the promised land."
Teixeira sent the first pitch from A's rookie Brett Anderson (7-9) into the elevated left-field bleachers in the fourth following Johnny Damon's leadoff single. Teixeira also had an RBI groundout in the first to put the Yankees ahead early on the way to their 14th win in 17 games.
Chad Gaudin pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings against his former club in his first start for the Yankees, allowing one hit, striking out five and walking five. He was on a pitch count of 90 and finished at exactly that. Gaudin loaded the bases in the fifth on a walk to Mark Ellis, then Aceves (8-1) relieved and got Kurt Suzuki to ground into a 1-2-3 double play that forced out Cliff Pennington at home.
"I think we got a little over anxious at times," A's manager Bob Geren said. "When we had scoring opportunities, I think we had a little over-effort almost. We chased a couple of pitches that we don't normally do."
Cust's 17th homer snapped a career-high 23-game streak without an RBI for Cust, who last had one July 23 also against the Yankees. Cust also had a 26-game, 80 at-bat homerless streak since connecting July 20 against Minnesota.
After this grueling stretch, the Yankees had to travel cross country after the game before Thursday's off day. On Friday, first-place New York opens a key AL East series with the archrival Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. The Yankees, who swept a four-game home series with the Red Sox, have lost seven straight at Fenway and all six this year.
Girardi was happy to get out of the Bay Area with another series victory after losing the opener Monday.
"I think it's important because we talk about winning series and this was three tough games," he said. "And there weren't a lot of runs scored."
Alex Rodriguez played despite still being sore after getting hit in the left elbow by a pitch for the second time in a week. He's also playing through back pain.
A-Rod was plunked by Oakland starter Vin Mazzaro in the first inning of Tuesday night's 7-2 win over the Athletics, but was in the lineup at third base and batting cleanup for the series finale.
Rodriguez was also hit by Toronto's Shawn Camp in the 11th inning of a 4-3, 11-inning win in New York on Aug. 12. He sat out Friday and Saturday at Seattle.
A-Rod is 3 for 15 with no home runs and one RBI in five games so far during the team's 10-game road trip.
Gaudin, acquired by the Yankees from San Diego on Aug. 6, spent parts of three seasons with the A's before being traded to the Cubs on July 8 last year in the six-player deal that also sent Rich Harden to Chicago.
Anderson, who had won his last two decisions, struck out six and walked one in seven solid innings.
The Yankees captured the season series 7-2 -- winning five of six in New York this year -- and have now done so in two straight seasons. New York earned its most wins against the A's in a season since also going 7-2 in the series in 2005.
Derek Jeter has hit safely in 14 of his last 15 games, batting .409 over that span. He also stole his 21st base. ... Yankees pitcher Ian Kennedy likely will pitch next month in the instructional league, his first game action since surgery May 12 to remove an aneurysm from beneath his right biceps. ... The A's will hand out Jason Giambi bobblehead dolls Friday against Detroit, despite the fact he was released Aug. 7. Giambi had returned to the A's for a second stint this season following seven seasons with the Yankees.