NEW YORK — Javier Vazquez pitched one-hit ball for six innings before becoming the latest pinstriped player to leave with an injury and the Yankees took advantage of more inept Mets play to win the opener of the Subway Series 2-1 on Friday night.
Skipped twice in the rotation this month and making his first start in nine days, Vazquez (3-4) didn't allow a hit until Angel Pagan looped a single to center with one out in the fifth inning, helping the Yankees snap a three-game skid. But he left after he was hit on the finger laying down a sacrifice bunt in the two-run seventh.
Kevin Russo got his first hit of the season and first two big league RBIs and Mariano Rivera struggled to earn his first save after two subpar outings, helping the makeshift Yankees win their fourth straight game at Citi Field after sweeping the series last year.
Rivera gave up consecutive two-out doubles to Jason Bay and Ike Davis in the ninth inning, bringing a record Citi Field crowd of 41,382 to life before getting David Wright to ground to second for his eighth save in nine chances.
With both teams struggling — the Yankees because of injuries to several key players, and the Mets because of an anemic offense and a rotation in disarray — Vazquez and spot starter Hisanori Takahashi engaged in a fantastic pitchers' duel for six innings.
But once manager Jerry Manuel pulled Takahashi and his array of befuddling pitches and a high-kick hesitation delivery that fooled the Yankees, the Mets reverted to the form that has led them to 10 losses in the last 13 games and last place in the NL East.
Returning from a 2-6 road trip in which they lost games on a wild pitch and a bad throw, second baseman Alex Cora made a throwing error with one out in the seventh that led to two runs off Elmer Dessens (0-1), called up from Triple-A Buffalo earlier in the day when John Maine was put on the disabled list with right shoulder weakness.
Befuddling the Yankees with several poor April starts, Vazquez was skipped twice, the second coming after his solid seven-inning outing against Detroit on May 12. But he got one out for the win Monday against Boston in a relief appearance, and was dominant Friday.
Facing a National League team for the first time since he went 15-10 with a 2.87 ERA for Atlanta last year, Vazquez appears back on track. He struck out six, walked two and even had two deft sacrifice bunts, one that helped the Yankees' seventh-inning rally. The second could be costly, depending on the severity of his injury.
Joba Chamberlain, who gave up seven runs in his last two outings, got five outs before giving way to Rivera who gave up a grand slam Sunday in a blown save, then got the loss against Boston on Tuesday.
Three relievers overcame Francisco Cervelli's throwing error in the bottom of the seventh, with Chamberlain recovering from a horrendous outing Tusday against Boston to strike out Wright and Pagan to end the threat. He pitched a 1-2-3 eighth.
The 35-year-old Takahashi made his major league first start in place of injured Jonathon Niese, out with a right hamstring strain. He made 15 relief appearances — none longer than 3 1/3 innings — in his first major league season after signing out of Japan.
Manuel pulled Takahashi for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning after throwing 101 pitches.
Yanks CF Curtis Granderson (strained left groin) will start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Saturday. … Mets RHP Ryota Igarashi (left hamstring) pitched a scoreless inning for Triple-A Buffalo in a rehab assignment. … Mets 2B Luis Castillo was given his second straight night off to rest his bruised heel.