Terrence Long scored once and drove in a run, but his biggest contribution came with his glove.
"All I know is from where I was sitting, I didn't think he had a chance," A's manager Art Howe said. "I did not have a good feeling when that ball was hit. You could hang a week's wash on that sucker."
"I had a good bead on it right off the bat," Long said.
Jason Isringhausen, who saved both of the A's wins in the three-game series, was grateful.
"It was a poor effort, but I feel good and I'm going to be back," said the normally loquacious Cone, cutting off additional questions.
Gil Heredia (7-3) struggled after Oakland gave him a 4-0 lead, but three relievers held off the Yankees, who had the tying run in scoring position in two of the last three innings.
Cone's ERA rose from 5.68 to 6.24.
"He was struggling tonight," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He didn't have good stuff. He didn't have good command."
Ricky Ledee was 2-for-3 with four RBIs for the Yankees.
Stairs, one of the players considered by the Yankees as a possible acquisition, put Oakland ahead with his eighth homer. Long's sacrifice fly in the second made it 4-0.
Knoblauch hit his three-run homer in the bottom half, but Oakland knocked out Cone in the fourth when Eric Chavez hit his seventh homer, Ben Grieve had a sacrifice fly and a another run scored on a throwing error by catcher Jorge Posada on a double steal.
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