- The mismatch that people most expected here over the weekend never materialized until the eighth inning Sunday, when the New York Yankees turned a close game with the Orioles into a humbling 13-3 rout.
The Orioles' chances of their first three-game sweep in New York since June 1986 and their first winning road trip of the season evaporated in an unsightly eighth in which the Yankees sent 14 batters to the plate and scored eight times.
"It was two different games," Orioles manager Dave Trembley lamented. "It was the first six innings, which was a baseball game, and the last couple, I'd just as soon forget."
The Yankees broke a 3-3 sixth-inning tie on Hideki Matsui's two-run bases-loaded single off Jeremy Guthrie, who then saw his hopes of getting off the hook for his 14th loss dashed two innings later.
Chris Waters managed to get just two outs in the eighth inning and surrendered four runs, three of them on Matsui's one-out homer. Bob McCrory faced five hitters and all reached base as he gave up four earned runs, raising his ERA to 15.00. In the eighth, the Yankees had eight of their 20 hits, and they got three more base runners via walks.
"I feel worse for the guys that I put in there than for anything else," said Trembley, whose team finished with a 5-13 record against the Yankees this season. "You got to feel bad for the ballclub because we played so good in the series and we had a chance, we kept it close, but their lineup is such where you give them any kind of breathing room at all, they're going to jump on you and pounce on you like they did."
An unusual series finale capped a surprisingly uplifting weekend for the Orioles, who had lost 10 straight to the Yankees before beating them Friday and Saturday behind rookie starting pitchers Chris Tillman and Brian Matusz.
It started as a celebratory weekend for the Yankees with Derek Jeter passing Lou Gehrig on Friday night to become the franchise's all-time hit king. By the bottom of the fifth inning Sunday, the mood of the home team had changed dramatically.
Third baseman Alex Rodriguez, still miffed at plate umpire Marty Foster's called third strike with the bases loaded in the fourth inning, and manager Joe Girardi were both ejected. Girardi certainly got his money's worth, spiking his cap behind home plate and needing to be separated from Foster by third base umpire and crew chief Wally Bell.
Before the ejections, the Orioles took a 2-1 lead against Yankees ace CC Sabathia in the second inning when rookie Justin Turner - a late addition to the lineup in place of Melvin Mora (sore right elbow) - drove in the tying run with a fielder's choice and reserve catcher Chad Moeller brought home the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly.
In the fourth, the game took a strange turn. Turner scored all the way from second on Jeff Fiorentino's fly ball to left field. Yankees outfielder Johnny Damon caught the ball and turned to throw it into the stands because he thought there were three outs instead of two. He realized his mistake before issuing the souvenir, but by then Turner had tagged up, picked up third base coach Juan Samuel and headed toward home.
As Sabathia threw up his hands, Turner scored easily, giving the Orioles a 3-1 lead. But they wouldn't score again as Sabathia retired 11 of the final 13 batters to become the American League's first 17-game winner. He also improved to 9-1 with a 4.55 ERA in 14 career starts against the Orioles.
Guthrie, meanwhile, allowed a career-high-tying 12 hits. He permitted the leadoff hitter to reach base in his first five innings but had limited the damage to Rodriguez's RBI double in the first and Melky Cabrera's two-run single in the fourth after the first four Yankees got base hits to start the inning. However, it caught up to him in the sixth, when he allowed back-to-back singles to Jeter and Damon, a one-out walk to Eric Hinske and then Matsui's go-ahead single to right.
The Orioles' right-hander had allowed no more than two runs in four straight starts entering Sunday's game.
"A strange game," said Guthrie, who didn't allow a homer in back-to-back outings for the first time all year. "I think I threw 20 pitches out of the windup the entire game. Always pitching in trouble, always pitching with men on. I never really got a chance to establish the fastball because of the way the game was going."
The pitchers who followed him didn't fare much better, with the exception of Cla Meredith, who got the last out of the eighth.
"A lot of guys right now, I'm certain, including myself, don't feel real thrilled right now," Moeller said. "That game was there for us. It was a good ballgame up against a tough pitcher and the game was there. We lost it. And from that standpoint, it's a shame, but to take two of three from this team on the road [is big]."
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