RICK FREEMAN,AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — By the time Andy Pettitte gets to the Bronx it may be too late. The New York Yankees’ rotation seems to have righted itself.
Phil Hughes won consecutive starts for the first time this season, Raul Ibanez homered against his former team for the second day in a row and the Yankees beat former New York prospect Hector Noesi in a 6-2 win over the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
“He did a good job,” manager Joe Girardi said of Hughes. “We’re going to need innings out of our rotation.”
Over the five games of this homestand, Yankees starters are 4-0 with a 1.31 ERA, 27 strikeouts and 11 walks. That’s one solid trip through the rotation going into Pettitte’s first start since 2010 on Sunday.
It was just a couple weeks ago that Freddy Garcia was demoted to the bullpen and Hughes couldn’t get out of the third inning against Texas. He followed that with a loss to Baltimore before a strong start on Sunday in Kansas City — his first time getting out of the sixth this season.
“It’s been a process overall to get myself right,” Hughes said. “As far as a turning point, it’s hard to get worse than the beginning of the year.”
Jayson Nix hit a two-run shot during a four-run second inning for his first homer with the Yankees, who have won six of eight.
Hughes (3-4) allowed six hits and a run in 7 2-3 innings with four strikeouts and a walk. The right-hander gave up a homer to Mike Carp in the seventh inning.
Boone Logan came in and struck out Ichiro Suzuki with two runners on to end the eighth. He allowed a fly ball to Carp in the ninth that went off the top of the fence in right field. Video review overturned the original call of a home run, leaving Carp with a RBI double, and Logan then struck out Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders for his second career save and first since April 2006.
Ibanez homered in the fourth inning to make it 5-0 after the Yankees scored all four runs in the second with two outs. Nix’s homer followed RBI doubles by Russell Martin and Ibanez.
“Those are the runs that kill teams,” Girardi said. “Those are the runs that are big for you and we got those today.”
On Friday night, Jesus Montero put the Mariners ahead 2-1 in the top of the sixth before Ibanez answered in the bottom half with a three-run shot of his own to prevent the Yankees’ recent trade with Seattle from haunting them — at least for a game.
Noesi (2-4) was traded to Seattle in January along with Montero for pitchers Michael Pineda and Jose Campos. Pineda has since been lost for the season due to injury.
Noesi lasted seven innings, allowing five runs and six hits. He struck out four without a walk, but the second inning was enough to cost him, though he allowed just two hits in his last five innings.
“I think he learned a lot there in that second inning,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “This kid is going to be a heck of a pitcher and it’s been good to watch him learn each and every time he goes out there. He had good stuff and I thought he really pitched well, but he just made a couple of mistakes in that second inning.”
Pettitte’s season debut will be his first big league appearance since the 2010 ALCS. The left-hander came out of retirement halfway through March and has been at extended spring training and in the minors, where he made his last start on Sunday.
Before this homestand, the Yankees dropped four of five, and the starter took the loss each time. Pettitte’s every minor league start was tracked. Since then, Yankees starters have won four of their last five.
Now it’s Pettitte’s turn to step back in, and suddenly it’s a much more stable situation.
“That’ll be nice if we can keep this going,” Hughes said.
NOTES: Girardi said before Saturday’s game that he hopes to get 100 pitches out of Pettitte … Derek Jeter had two hits, tying Tony Gwynn for 17th on the career list with 3,141, one behind Robin Yount. … Suzuki got a hit to tie Frank Thomas for 99th on the career hits list with 2,468. … The Yankees celebrated the 87th birthday of Hall of Famer Yogi Berra with a pregame ceremony featuring a pinstriped cake at home plate while the crowd sang to him. … The day after New York sent INF Eduardo Nunez down to the minors, Nix started at SS for the Yankees, his first appearance there with New York. He last played the position May 2, 2010 — at Yankee Stadium for the White Sox — entering as a pinch-hitter in the 8th inning. … The Mariners played the second game of a 10-game road trip to four cities. When they return to Seattle on May 21, they will have played 28 road games (including the first two in Japan) and 15 at home. … Hughes has allowed at least one HR in all seven starts this season. The only other Yankees pitcher to do that was Tim Leary in 1990.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.