NEW YORK -- Just back from the minors, Jharel Cotton totally knew what he was doing.
He was taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning at Yankee Stadium.
"I thought about it too much," the Oakland rookie admitted.
"Pitching at Yankee Stadium, it's a great feeling. A lot of guys don't get to pitch at Yankee Stadium," Cotton said. "I wanted it to be a spectacular one."
He certainly made it interesting until Holliday connected.
"That was a big hit. It was the first the kid gave up, but he's got some interesting stuff," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees wound up winning with only two hits - the first time they've done that with so few at home since 1988.
Promoted from Triple-A Nashville before the game, Cotton (3-5) hadn't come close to giving up anything when he retired the first two batters in the sixth. Yet he had thrown a lot of pitches.
After Gary Sanchez walked, Holliday teed off to left-center field. He homered on Cotton's 105th delivery for a 3-1 lead, sending a drive to nearly the exact spot where Frankie Montas was warming up in the Oakland bullpen.
"I think he made pitches in big spots. I'd never faced him and I don't think any guys had faced him. So sometimes that can be a challenge," Holliday said.
Starlin Castro followed with a sharp single that finished Cotton, who struck out five and walked three in his 13th big league start.
Even if Cotton had closed out the sixth, "that probably would've been it," A's manager Bob Melvin said.
Cotton made his debut last September. The 25-year-old righty began this season in the Athletics' rotation but was sent down to the minors May 11 to refine his game.
The last pitcher to throw a no-hitter against the Yankees all by himself was Hoyt Wilhelm in 1958 for Baltimore. In 2003, six Houston pitchers combined to no-hit the Yankees.
Sabathia (5-2) has won three straight starts for the first time since April 2013. The 36-year-old lefty pitched into the seventh and struck out nine.
Dellin Betances escaped a second-and-third, one-out jam in the eighth, an inning that included the ejections of A's hitter Jed Lowrie and Melvin for arguing strike three calls. Betances closed for his fifth save.
Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge was in the right spot for a pair of key catches to boost the AL East leaders.
Ryon Healy hit an RBI double with two outs in the sixth that made it 1-all and took third on the throw home. Trevor Plouffe then lofted a fly to shallow right that Castro chased back from his second base spot - the ball popped out of his glove, right into Judge's.
"What are you going to do," Melvin said.
The 6-foot-7 Judge collided with beefy first baseman Chris Carter while swooping in to grab Chad Pinder's foul fly leading off the seventh. Judge's sunglasses went flying and Carter went down, but everyone was OK.
The Yankees scored in the first on a walk, a hit batter and Castro's sacrifice fly.
Josh Phegley homered off Sabathia in the seventh, pulling the A's to 3-2.
Sanchez lost control of his bat and it helicoptered a long way, far beyond the Athletics' third base dugout. No fans were hurt. On Wednesday, a boy was hit by Carter's broken bat at the ballpark.
HOME, AT LAST
The previous eight games between the A's and Yankees had been won by the road team. Starting last year, each club had won four times at other's park.
Lowrie was ejected by plate umpire Will Little in the eighth after being called out on strikes for the third time. The A's second baseman had been on a 16-for-29 streak before going 0 for 4. Melvin was tossed after arguing after Plouffe fanned.
"A lot of frustration," Melvin said.
Athletics: 1B Yonder Alonso missed his third straight start because of a sore right wrist. Melvin said he hoped Alonso could play Sunday.
Yankees: Closer Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) made 25 throws from 60 feet, his first baseball activity in two weeks. He said he felt fine after the workout and that he will throw again Sunday.
Athletics: RHP Andrew Triggs (5-3, 2.77) is 1-2 with a 3.97 ERA in four May starts after going 4-1 with a 1.84 ERA in five April starts.
Yankees: RHP Michael Pineda (5-2, 3.35) has given up no more than three earned runs in his last eight starts.