Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - Sometimes a long overdue victory is made sweeter when it involves a fair amount of grit, sweat and determination. On Saturday, sweltering conditions produced the perspiration and the Athletics provided the rest in a 4-3 victory over the New York Yankees. Josh Willingham belted a two-run homer and Hideki Matsui added a solo shot against his former team, as the A's halted an historic 11-game skid against the Bronx denizens.
Rich Harden (2-1) allowed two runs on five hits and four walks while striking out six over 5 1/3 innings and the Oakland bullpen worked around several late- inning jams to close the door. New York pushed a run across in the ninth on Mark Teixeira's sacrifice fly, but, with Derek Jeter on third,Andrew Bailey got Robinson Cano on a groundout to record his 11th save of the season.
"We didn't get much going off of [Harden] and they got a pretty good bullpen that came in and did the job," said Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner.
A.J. Burnett (8-8) worked 5 2/3 frames, but surrendered three runs on six hits and three walks while striking out six.
"I thought [Burnett] threw extremely well," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "I thought he threw a good game."
The Yankees, who scored a season-high 17 runs in Friday's series opener, received a homer from Nick Swisher-- his second in as many days -- and an RBI single from Russell Martin. Jeter went 3-for-4.
Matsui received a warm, if reserved, round of applause after giving the A's a 4-2 advantage with a leadoff shot in the seventh.
The Yankees relentlessly pursued the A's for the remainder of the game, but could not record the equalizer. A Jeter double and a Teixeira single placed runners on the corners with two down in the home seventh, butGrant Balfour forced Cano into an inning-ending fly out. Swisher and Martin began the eighth with a walk and single but again the A's held. This time, Eduardo Nunez flied out before Balfour induced pinch-hitter Jorge Posada into an inning-ending, 6-4-3 double play.
The bottom of the ninth began in similar fashion, as Gardner walked and Jeter singled. A double steal put runners on second and third and Teixeira followed a Curtis Granderson strikeout with a sac fly to right, but Cano tapped a weak grounder to the left side, ending the game.
Cano did prove effective earlier, slapping a one-out double in the second, advancing to third on Swisher's fly out and crossing the plate on Martin's single up the middle. Burnett gave up the lead a half-inning later, as Matsui reached with a two-out single and Willingham followed with a shot into the bullpen in left-center. It was Willingham's second home run in four career at bats against Burnett.
Unlike Burnett, Harden proved capable of holding the lead. A Cano single and walks by Swisher and Nunez loaded the bases with two down in the fourth, but Harden proved his mettle, striking out Brandon Laird on a 2-2 fastball. Burnett retired the first two batters he faced in the sixth, but a single by Ryan Sweeney and consecutive walks to Conor Jackson and Landon Powell loaded the bases, which prompted a call to the bullpen.
Cory Wade entered an surrendered an RBI single to Jemile Weeks, as the A's took a 3-1 lead. Cliff Pennington then grounded out, as Wade avoided further damage. A half-inning later, Swisher kept the Yankees within striking distance, lifting a solo shot into the upper deck in right.
"Any time you get into a streak like that, you know, it plays in there a little bit more because you do have to answer questions," said A's manager Bob Melvin. "It's coming up all the time. It's something that you just can't forget about because you're not allowed. What you have to do is go out there and get a win."
The A's snapped an 11-game losing steak to the Yankees, which marked their longest-ever skid against the club...Harden improved to 2-3 in 10 career games -- eight starts -- against the Yankees...Despite the win, the A's are 18-34 on the road this season, as compared to 26-22 at home...Of Matsui's eight home runs this season, seven have come against southpaws...New York's 17 runs on Friday was its most ever at current Yankees Stadium...Laird recorded his first major league hit and RBI on Friday.