NEW YORK -- Pitching at Yankee Stadium for the first time in his brief career after spending two weeks in the minors, Jharel Cotton wanted to make it a special day.
He came somewhat close.
Cotton began with a shaky first inning and carried a no-hitter into the sixth until Matt Holliday ended it with a two-run homer as the New York Yankees held on for a 3-2 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Saturday afternoon
"Pitching at Yankee Stadium is a great feeling," Cotton said after his 13th career start. "A lot of guys don't get to pitch at Yankee Stadium. I wanted it to be a spectacular one. I guess I was kind of too amped up."
Then he allowed nothing other than a one-out walk to Brett Gardner in the third until the fateful sixth after Oakland tied it in the top of the sixth on a double by Ryon Healy.
Cotton walked Sanchez again and then two pitches later, Holliday lifted a 1-and-0 slider into the Oakland bullpen. The ball landed where Frankie Montas had just completed his warmup pitches and gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead.
"You don't want to put guys on with free passes and I did that and it came back to haunt me," Cotton said.
Even if Cotton completed the sixth with the no-hitter still going, it probably would have been a combined no-hitter.
Manager Bob Melvin gave him one more batter, but Cotton's day ended when Castro lined his 107th pitch for a single up the middle.
Cotton was bidding to no-hit the Yankees for the first time since six Houston Astros did it on June 11, 2003. The last Oakland no-hitter was Dallas Braden's perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on May 9, 2010, although Melvin said Cotton probably would have combined on the no-hitter because of his rising pitch count.
"Pretty impressive to see," Melvin said. "That was a great recovery. He was a little out of sorts at first, was having a tough time finding the strike zone. But he found it."
Holliday's home run came after he struck out in the fourth during a sequence when Cotton retired nine straight. By then, the designated hitter felt somewhat more comfortable against a pitcher he had only studied on videotape before Saturday.
"At least you've seen all his pitches and kind of seen sequences and it gives you a better a chance, for sure," Holliday said. "I'd seen his breaking ball and his slider and that's it. You feel better about your chances for sure."
Before the hits, the Yankees did not force Oakland's defense to make any difficult plays. The Yankees made nine outs in the air and the closest they came to ending the no-hit bid occurred when Aaron Hicks lined a pitch a few feet foul into the second deck in right field in the fifth.
The Yankees won a game when getting two hits or fewer for the fifth time since 1958. The last instance was nearly a year ago at Tampa Bay, when the only hit in a 1-0 win was a home run by Castro off Jake Odorizzi.
"That was a big hit," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It was the first the kid gave up, but he's got some interesting stuff."
The Yankees also felt better about their chances because CC Sabathia (5-2) turned in a third straight effective start. He allowed two runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings and won a third straight decision for the first time in over four years.
The left-hander struck out nine and had help from Aaron Judge, who made two nice defensive plays in right field.
Judge ended the sixth by catching a fly ball from Trevor Plouffe after the ball went in and out of second baseman Castro's glove.
Judge also recorded the first out of the seventh by tracking down a fly ball by Chad Pinder in foul territory and avoiding a serious collision with first baseman Chris Carter.
Josh Phegley homered off Sabathia with one out in the seventh to make a one-run game and Adam Rosales doubled.
Adam Warren struck out Mark Canha with a runner at third to end the seventh. Tyler Clippard put two on in the eighth, which featured ejections of Oakland second baseman Jed Lowrie and Melvin by plate umpire Will Little, as the A's questioned his strike zone for much of the game.
Betances struck out Trevor Plouffe and Chad Pinder to end the eighth and then notched a perfect ninth for his fifth save. It was his third career save where he recorded at least five outs.
NOTES: New York LHP Aroldis Chapman (left rotator cuff inflammation) made 25 throws from 60 feet in his first baseball activities since going on the disabled list on May 14. ... Oakland placed RHP Jesse Hahn (strained triceps) on the 10-day disabled list, retroactive to Wednesday. Oakland manager Bob Melvin said the team will wait until Sunday before deciding if RHP Kendall Graveman (right shoulder soreness) needs a stint on the disabled list. ... Yankees 1B Greg Bird (bruised right ankle) took batting practice on the field for the second straight day. He will take at-bats during extended spring training and start a rehab assignment sometime next week with Class A Tampa.