WASHINGTON — This city has plenty of lawyers, guns and money. History, museums and narcissistic politicians are abundant, too.
The hottest team in the NL was no match for the best of the AL at a sold-out Nationals Park where the Yankees hung a 7-2 loss on the hosts in front of a crowd that included many Yankees fans in the 41,406.
The Yankees’ season-high seventh straight victory is the longest active streak in the majors and hiked their record to 39-23.
Coupled with the Orioles losing to the Braves, the Yankees’ win increased the AL East lead to 1 1/2 games.
PHIL UP THE TANK: Phil Hughes, who allowed one run on six hits over six Innings while striking out nine, delivers a pitch during the third innings of the third inning of the Yankees' 7-2 victory over the Nationals lst night. Hughes won his fourth straight decision and has not lost since May 17.
The Yankees have won 12 of their last 14 games and are 8-2 in interleague play.
The hot stretch has been fueled by strong starting pitching. In the 14 games the starters are 11-1 with a 2.40 ERA.
Phil Hughes improved to 7-5 with his fourth straight victory. Hughes hasn’t lost since May 17 at Toronto.
YANKEES BOX SCORE
“You don’t want to be the one who lets it down,’’ said Hughes, who went six innings, gave up one run and two walks. He fanned a season-high nine and it was the first time in 13 games he didn’t surrender a home run.
Gio Gonzalez started the game for the Nationals with an 8-2 record and a 2.35 ERA. Nevertheless, it was more of the same for the lefty against the Yankees.
In six innings, Gonzalez allowed three runs and five hits. The former A’s hurler has dropped his last five decisions to the Yankees and is 1-5 with a 6.75 ERA.
Curtis Granderson homered and doubled in two runs. It was Granderson’s 20th homer of the season.
David Robertson worked the final frame. It was his first outing since injuring a left rib cage muscle May 11.
For the first six weeks of the season manager Joe Girardi’s starters weren’t awful but very inconsistent. Lately, they look like five Cy Young candidates.
“I think they were better than the way they were pitching,’’ said Girardi, who bagged his 500th win as a manager (421 with the Yankees). “They seem to be pitching the way they are capable of.’’
Staked to a 2-0 lead in the third when Alex Rodriguez, who tied Jimmie Foxx for sixth place on the all-time RBI list at 1,924, and Nick Swisher delivered RBI singles, Hughes faced his biggest challenge in the home half of the frame.
Consecutive singles by Steve Lombardozzi and 19-year-old stud Bryce Harper which went off Hughes’ foot, were followed by a fly ball out and a walk to Adam LaRoche that loaded the bases.
“I made a horrible pitch and hung a curveball,’’ Hughes said of the 0-2 pitch Michael Morse laced to center or an RBI single.
Hughes rebounded to induce Ian Desmond to bang into a 6-4-3 double play and kill the rally.
Four runs in the seventh put the game away for the Yankees who were helped by Desmond’s throwing error. Granderson supplied a two-run double to left field and Derek Jeter (2-for-5) drove in a run with an infield single that Desmond committed a throwing error on and allowed a second run to score. Granderson added his 20th homer in the ninth.
As for Hughes turning around a 1-5 start, Girardi has noticed a big difference.
“The last seven or eight starts he has been tremendous, good command of the fastball and expanding [strike zone] with breaking ball and that has been the key,’’ Girardi said. “This is as good as we have seen him.’’
Phil Hughes, the Yankees, lawyers, guns and money, Yankees, straight victory, the Nationals, Joe Girardi