Having just worked six solid innings behind the plate with Phil Hughes, Russell Martin watched his starter step in front of his locker to speak to a group of reporters.

"This is his most nerve-wracking part of the day," Martin quipped.

Save for a third-inning jam that Hughes escaped with minimal damage, Martin was right. Hughes earned his fourth straight win with a 7-2 victory over the Nationals Friday night in the opener off the highly anticipated three-game set at Nationals Park.

Hughes held the first-place Nationals to one run over his six innings, allowing six hits and two walks while striking out nine. Hughes did not allow a home run, the first time he has not given up one in 13 starts this season.

"You look at his last seven or eight starts and he's been tremendous," Joe Girardi said. "He did a great job today."

Through eight innings, it appeared as though the Yankees would snap a homer-related streak of their own, as they were primed to win their first game this season without the aid of a longball.

Nevertheless, Curtis Granderson went deep to right in the ninth to end that possibility, but nobody cared as the Bombers improved to 17-4 in their last 21 games.

"I don't care as long as we win them," said a smiling Girardi, who picked up his 500th win as a manager.

The Yankees and Nationals entered the series in first place in their respective divisions, each riding six-game winning streaks following a pair of three-game interleague sweeps.