Yanks encouraged by Pineda’s work in tough loss

The shot in the arm the Yankees needed Wednesday night came in the right arm of Michael Pineda. Unfortunately, that was not enough to avoid another loss to the Orioles, who again overcame a two-run deficit to sweep the rain-abbreviated series.

The severe rainstorm that caused the postponement of Tuesday night’s game was the only break the Yankees had in their trip to Baltimore. The two losses shoved the Yankees eight games back of the first-place Orioles in the American League East.

Pineda’s start was an example of how important the Yankees considered this series. Originally slated to pitch a minor-league game on injury rehabilitation, Pineda started against the Orioles instead and did a fine job in his first major-league start since April 23 at Boston.The righthander showed no signs of right shoulder problems that kept him on the disabled list for 86 games. Pineda went five innings and did not allow a hit until the fifth when Nelson Cruz led off with a double. He eventually scored on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Flaherty that cut the Yankees’ lead to 2-1.

Once again, the Yankees grabbed an early lead but could not build on it. Francisco Cervelli ended a 0-for-24 streak by Yankees hitters with runners in scoring position dating to last Friday night when he drove a 3-2 knuckle curve from Chris Tillman to left-center field for his second home run of the season. Scoring ahead of him was Stephen Drew, who had doubled.

But that would be the extend of the Yankees’ scoring. They were hitless from the fifth through the eighth innings. A double by Carlos Beltran led to a run in the ninth on an infield out by Chase Headley, but the Yankees could do no better. Manager Joe Girardi was ejected in the seventh inning for arguing over an interference call against Drew, who was charged with running out of the baseline on the way to first by plate umpire Gerry Davis. Drew appeared to be in the line until he neared the bag, but Girardi lost the argument.

The Yankees had to be encouraged by the work of Pineda, who allowed only two hits, did not walk a batter and struck out four.

Another sign of the value the Yanks played on this game was the appearance of Dellin Betances in an outing of more than two innings. Betances had not pitched in five days and with no game Tuesday and an open date Thursday was pushed beyond his usual limit. The righthander pitched two hitless innings with four strikeouts, then one out into the eighth he hung a breaking ball to Joseph Schoop, who slugged his 11th home run that tied the score.

Shawn Kelley put gasoline on the fire after two were out. He gave up a single to Nick Markakis, a walk to Chris Davis and a three-run home run to Adam Jones (No. 23). It was a stunning finish to a disappointing series that extended the Yankees’ losing streak to four games and cost them the chance to give the Orioles a scare.

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