Pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre returned from chemotherapy to root from the dugout. Darryl Strawberry inspired him from his hospital bed.
Showered with so much support, Cone simply could not lose.
Cone won for the first time in 16 starts, proving he could still be a valuable part of the rotation by pitching the Yankees over the Oakland Athletics 12-6 Thursday.
Cone stopped his career-high eight-game losing streak, striking out a season-high eight in six innings. His only mistake was a fat fastball that Jason Giambi hit for a two-run homer.
Cone gave up eight hits, two runs and one walk in six innings.
"The cloud is not hanging over our heads anymore," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "We can concern ourselves with winning games now."
The Yankees had lost the last 13 times Cone (2-10) had started, but there was little suspense this time as the two-time World Series champions took a season-high five-game lead in the AL East.
"It's been a gradual progression. Certainly a part of it is mental and emotional," Cone said. "I felt like a got a huge gorilla off my back King Kong."
New York finished off a three-game sweep and sent Oaklnd to its fifth straight loss, matching its longest skid of the year.
A couple of days ago, many Yankees fans were claiming the 37-year-old Cone was washed up and complaining the team had acquired the 36-year-old Canseco. There weren't too many critics at the ballpark on this afternoon.
"You couldn't have written up the script any better," Torre said.
Canseco, making his first start for New York, went 2-for-2 with a walk and two sacrifice flies.
"I was nervous, don't kid yourself," he said.
Batting cleanup, he launched his 441st career homer and first for the Yankees, a shot into the upper deck in left field as New York gave Cone a 10-2 lead in the fourth inning. Canseco also doubled.
"It was good to score runs for him early so he could experiment and he could make a mistake somewhere along the line and still get the win," Canseco said.
Throughout his streak of 15 starts without a win, the Yankees had never scored more than four runs when Cone was in the game.
By the second, every Yankees starter had either scored a run or driven in one against rookie Mark Mulder (6-8). He was tagged for a season-high 10 earned runs in 3 1-3 innings the previous night, the Yankees roughed up Kevin Appier for a career-worst 10 runs in 3 2-3 innings.
Cone looked a bit antsy at the start, shaking his arms and looking all around the ballpark. A six-run second inning seemed to settle him down.
In the fifth, with two on and none out, Cone struck out Randy Velarde, Giambi and Ben Grieve in succession cleverly using slow breaking balls to set up fastballs to earn a standing ovation from the 41,011 fans.
"It was the best moment I've had all year," he said.
Cone's dad, Ed, in town from Kansas City, flashed a thumbs-up as his son headed toward his first victory since April 28.
"Some people had given up on him, but I felt he could do it," he said.
On Sept. 2, 1996, Ed Cone also was in the stands when his son coming back from an aneurysm pitched seven no-hit innings to win at Oakland.
"That's a game you had more concern there than during the streak because I never doubted him," the older Cone said. "He seems to relax a bit when I'm around him."
"He's always had a calming influence on me," he said. "You don't want to lose in front of your father. He's the person who taught me to pitch, way back when."
Stottlemyre must have been pleased, too. He had missed a couple of games while receiving treatment for cancer, but came back to watch this one before the Yankees left on a road trip to the est Coast.
A day earlier, Cone visited Strawberry in a New York hospital. Strawberry, recovering from cancer surgery, got his 1999 World Series ring and offered Cone some words of wisdom,
"He told me, `Forget all of the advice you're getting and just have fun.' That's about the best advice I've heard," Cone said.
Bernie Williams had a two-run single to highlight the big second inning. The hit made him 9-for-12 with the bases loaded this season.
"I was hoping that they wouldn't give him anything to work with," A's manager Art Howe said of Cone. "Once they got the big lead, he's a veteran and knows how to pitch with a lead."
Glenallen Hill hit a two-run homer in the Yankees fourth. He had three hits and drove in three runs.
Terrence Long and Matt Stairs also homered for the A's.
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