Results tagged ‘ Nick Markakis ’

Jeter cannot provide dream ending

Those in the crowd of 43,201 at Yankee Stadium Tuesday night who waited long enough for what appeared at the time to be Derek Jeter’s possible last at-bat of the game were rewarded when the Captain beat out a slow roller to third base for a single with two out.

An even greater award came two pitches later as Brian McCann belted a 94-mph fastball from lefthander Andrew Miller, one of the hardest-throwing relief pitchers in the game, for a two-run home run that cut the Yankees’ deficit to 5-4. McCann, who had singled and scored in the sixth inning, had eight home runs in September, his most in a calendar month since July 2012 when he had nine.

It was not that long ago that the Yankees were down by four runs on scores of 4-0 and 5-1 to the Orioles, who used the long ball to build the large leads against Brandon McCarthy. His pitches were up for much of his 5 1/3 innings and he paid the price for that.

Kelly Johnson, Nick Markakis and Nelson Cruz all took McCarthy deep. Johnson, who started the season with the Yankees and was dealt to Boston for Stephen Drew in July, got his first home run since joining the Orioles Aug. 30 leading off the second inning. Markakis added a two-run shot in the fourth. Cruz led off the next inning with his 40th home run, the most in the majors.

So instead of a sizable portion of the crowd heading for the exits after getting one last glance at Jeter the house remained full with the improved prospects of a Yankees comeback and a hope that the Captain might get one more time at the plate.

Someone needed to get on base in the ninth for that to happen because Jeter was the fourth scheduled batter that inning. Brett Gardner provided the opportunity for DJ with a two-out single over the mound against lefthander Zach Britton, the Baltimore closer.

With the crowd chanting “Der-ek Je-ter,” the Captain had his chance to be a hero, but this would not be a Hollywood ending. Britton struck Jeter out on three pitches.

One night after scratching out only one hit against the Yankees, the Orioles banged out 17 hits, including four by Markakis and three apiece by Cruz, Johnson and Nick Hundley. Yet only one of their hits came with a runner in scoring position in seven at-bats as Baltimore stranded 11 base runners.

The Yankees did not do well in that category, either, with eight hitless at-bats in the clutch. Yankees pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts (eight by McCarthy, two by Dellin Betances and one by David Robertson) to set a season franchise record of 1,319, one more than the previous mark of 2012.

With the Royals winning in Cleveland, the Yankees remained five games back in the wild card hunt and failed to take advantage of the Mariners losing at Toronto. Only five games remain in the regular season for the Yankees, and they are down to this: they must win every game and hope clubs ahead of them stumble.

Pitchers stifled because of managers’ scrap?

Someone will have to explain to me what CC Sabathia and Chris Tillman had to do with the beef between their managers, the Yankees’ Joe Girardi and the Orioles’ Buck Showalter, at the end of the first inning Monday night in the opener of a crucial four-game series between the American League wild-card playoff berth foes at Camden Yards.

The shouting match between the skippers apparently was over Girardi’s admonishing Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson for reasons the Yankees manager did not specify after the game only to say that he has always been dedicated to defending his players. One can only assume the player he was defending was catcher Austin Romine after hearing Showalter’s post-game remarks that the issue may have been sign stealing or signaling pitch location.

Well, it all made for interesting theater and little else. So what was the point of plate umpire Ed Hickox issuing warnings to the pitchers? What did Sabathia and Tillman have to do with all this? Here is a pivotal game between a couple of postseason candidates and the pitchers are neutralized for no good reason.

Camden Yards is a home-run haven that requires pitchers to use every inch of the plate and they are told from practically the start of the game that they work the inner half at their peril. What a joke.

Despite this limitation, both starters worked deeply into the game. Sabathia was provided a 1-0 lead before he took the mound on a home run by Alex Rodriguez. But for the 12th time this season, CC gave up a lead as the Orioles tied the score with a run in the bottom half of the first on a sacrifice fly by Adam Jones.

The pitchers exchanged zeroes until the fifth when another sacrifice fly, by J.J. Hardy, put the Orioles ahead. Baltimore picked up an additional run thanks to the legs of Alexi Casilla. He singled with two out and stole second from where he scored on a single by Nick Markakis, one of his three hits in the game.

Sabathia hurt himself in the eighth with a throwing error that helped the Orioles to another run on a two-out double by Manny Machado. Lyle Overbay’s 14th home run leading off the eighth inning ended Tillman’s stretch of 14 consecutive outs and his outing as well. Tommy Hunter struck out the next three innings.

The Yankees got the tying run to the plate after Rodriguez led off the ninth with a single, but Jim Johnson withstood a warning-track drive by Curtis Granderson to get his 43rd save.

It was not the way the Yankees wanted to start the series. They fell three games behind the Rays for the second wild card and 1 ½ games behind the Orioles and Indians with only a one-game edge over the Royals.

Oh, Mo, 1st blown save at Stadium since 2010

Not that you would recognize it immediately on a day when the temperature peaked at 94 degrees but hell froze over Sunday.

Doesn’t it always seem that way when Mariano Rivera blows a save? The Yankees’ formula was in an ideal spot Sunday with starter Hiroki Kuroda pitching seven shutout innings of brilliance coming off a sore left hip flexor and David Robertson supplying a 1-2-3 eighth, setting it up for Mo to finish things off in the ninth, which he has done more often than any pitcher in history.

Pitching for the fifth time in seven days may have taken a toll on Rivera, who is after all 43 years old. A sign that he could not get his cutter inside enough was evident when Nick Markakis came within inches of a game-tying home run. Normally when a guy hits a ball like that he pops up the next pitch or swings through it. Markakis drilled the next pitch into center field for a single. The Orioles right fielder hit the ball hard off Rivera with two swings in one at-bat than most hitters do off him over a month.

Adam Jones had the killing blow, however, driving a 0-1 two-seamer over the left field wall. A stunned Yankee Stadium crowd of 40,218 watched a 1-0 lead suddenly evaporate. The save went instead to the Orioles’ closer, Jim Johnson, who had blown one two games ago and rebounded with a perfect ninth for save No. 30, the same number Rivera was trying to notch.

It was only the second time this season that Rivera did not convert a save opportunity. The loss ended a streak of 41 straight converted save opportunities at the Stadium for Rivera that dated to the start of the 2011 season. His previous blown a save at home was Sept. 26, 2010 to the Red Sox.

“Whenever it happens, you’re kind of shocked,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

This was a downer. The Yankees were primed to make up for getting swept last week at Camden Yards by returning the favor and adding to their six-game winning streak. The Orioles managed only three hits in seven innings off Kuroda, who walked one batter and struck out four. Rivera recognized more than anyone that this was a tough no-decision for a starting pitcher to accept.

“Kuroda pitched great and deserved to win,” Mo said. “That would have been a great one to save. I made a mistake on a professional hitter. Too bad. To do what I did. . .you can’t do that.”

“There are times like that for him, too,” Kuroda said, acknowledging that whether the Yankees like to admit it or not that Mariano is human. “There is nothing you can do about it.”

Rivera even felt bad that he may have hurt the All-Star candidacy of teammate David Robertson, who is one of the five players nominated for the Final Vote on the American League squad. As a sign of support, Mo wore his uniform stockings up above his calf the way Robertson does that led to his charity organization being named “High Socks for Hope.”

“I don’t think I helped him,” Rivera said with a rueful smile.

Asked if he would stop wearing his socks that way, Rivera said, “I have no superstitions.”

Rivera put the game squarely on his shoulders, but there was not much margin for error because the Yankees scored only one run, in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Eduardo Nunez. All six hits for the Yankees Sunday were singles just as were all 10 of their knocks Saturday. Despite winning two of three games over Baltimore, the Yankees had only two extra-base hits – doubles both – in the series.

The Orioles got a one-out double from Matt Wieters in the second inning and a leadoff two-bagger from Markakis in the fourth but Kuroda kept them from scoring by frustrating the O’s with sinkers and splitters. Kuroda pitched at least seven innings without allowing a run for the 11th time in 51 starts since joining the Yankees in 2012, surpassing Felix Hernandez for the most such starts in the AL over the past two seasons.

The Yankees signed first baseman Travis Ishikawa off waivers from the Orioles. Ishikawa, 29, appeared in six games with the Orioles this season and batted .118 with one RBI in 17 at-bats before being designated for assignment June 29. He spent the majority of the season with Triple-A Norfolk, batting .316 with 29 runs, 16 doubles, seven home runs and 311 RBI in 49 games and 177 at-bats. Ishikawa, who bats left-handed, is a .260 career hitter over parts of six major-league seasons with the Giants, Brewers and Orioles.

Teammates rally around Pettitte

A figurine of Andy Pettitte was distributed among the Yankee Stadium crowd of 42,678 Saturday. On the mound, the real thing tried not to be a miniature resemblance of himself, which is a daily challenge at age 41 for any major league player. While the Yankees made a giveaway of Pettitte, he was careful not to do the same with the Orioles.

The popular lefthander produced a gritty if unspectacular outing. At his age, there is more grit than spectacle anyway. Victimized early by Triple Crown threat Chris Davis, who clubbed his 33rd home run in the first inning, and his own throwing error that led to a run in the second, Pettitte had to fight to keep his club within arm’s length of the Orioles. That he did, and his teammates rewarded him by charging back to take the lead in the sixth inning and put Pettitte in position for his first winning decision in five starts since June 8.

As has often been the case, a Pettitte victory was saved by Mariano Rivera, who worked a scoreless ninth for his 29th save of the season and career No. 637, 72 of which have come in W’s by Pettitte, the top starter-reliever combination since the save statistic became official in 1969.

“First of all, it was a great win for the team,” Pettitte said. “I’m thankful the guys could come back and get me the lead. I feel pretty good early, but I have been giving up a lot of runs early. I need to throw some zeroes up there.”

Davis’ home run looked like a long fly ball that would eventually die on the warning track, but it lofted in the humid air into the netting in front of Monument Park. Pettitte’s errant throw to first base the next inning was an error of aggression but an error nevertheless and preceded an RBI double by Alex Casilla.

“Andy dialed it in after the third inning,” manager Joe Girardi said. “He seemed to figure it out after that.”

Pettitte gave up leadoff doubles in the third and fourth innings. He avoided damage in the third but was cuffed for a run in the fourth on a two-out, RBI single by Taylor Teegarden. The Yanks fought back against righthander Chris Tillman and pulled ahead in the sixth to end his personal seven-game winning streak.

Once given the lead, Pettitte was determined not to give it up. The Orioles got a runner to second base with one out in the seventh, but Pettitte struck out dangerous Nick Markakis with an inside fastball on his 100th and last pitch of the game. Shawn Kelley came out of the pen to strike out Manny Machado as well. David Robertson and Rivera handled the rest. Yankees pitchers did not walk a batter for the 12th game this season, the most in the majors.

Remember how downtrodden the Yankees seemed at this time a week ago when they were swept by the Orioles at Camden Yards? Well, the Yankees haven’t lost since. Their winning streak has reached a season-best six games. Not only that; the Yanks moved ahead of the Orioles back into second place in the American League East.

Kuroda knocked out early but injury not serious

Look at it this way; it was Hiroki Kuroda’s turn. The way the Yankees have been besieged with injuries, it seems as if everyone on the roster is bound to be affected at some point. Wednesday night the arrow pointed at Kuroda, who was drilled in the right leg by a line drive from Baltimore third baseman Manny Machado in the second inning and came out of the game an inning later.

Kuroda had his first brush with injury in his first start of the season April 3 against the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium when he hurt his right hand trying to catch a line drive. This time, the ball struck Kuroda in the right calf.

Manager Joe Girardi and head trainer Steve Donohue checked out Kuroda, who threw several warm-ups and stayed in the game. He got the final out of the second inning, but Girardi was back to the mound for another visit after Kuroda gave up hits to the first two batters of the third. Fearful that Kuroda was favoring the leg and altering his stride, Girardi decided to remove the righthander from the game.

This was not the Kuroda the Yankees have seen much of the year. He gave up two home runs in the first inning, a solo shot by Nick Markakis and a two-run jack by Chris Davis, who took over the American League lead with 14. Kuroda had never pitched at Camden Yards before, and the way Wednesday night went he probably wished he still hadn’t. With five earned runs charged to his record in two innings, Kuroda’s ERA shot from 1.99 to 2.67.

The injury was identified as a bruised calf and did not appear to be serious. Girardi told reporters after the game that he would be “shocked” if Kuroda did not make his next start, which could be a marque pairing with Mets rookie standout Matt Harvey at Citi Field.

Matt Wieters greeted reliever Preston Claiborne with a three-run home run to right-center that increased the Orioles’ lead to 6-1 on the way to a 6-3 final. It was the first run Claiborne allowed in the major leagues after nine scoreless innings over his previous seven outings. He got the next six batters out, and Adam Warren followed with four shutout frames to lower his ERA to 1.14 in 23 2/3 innings.

While Yankees relievers were holding down the Orioles over the last five innings, the offense could not muster a comeback attack except for the solo home runs by Curtis Granderson in the fifth inning and David Adams in the ninth. Robinson Cano had driven in the Yankees’ first run by following a double by Granderson in the third. Granderson, who was back in center field, batted leadoff and had a perfect night with his first home run, the double, a single and a walk.

Orioles starter Jason Hammel had been terrible at home (0-2, 7.79 ERA) as opposed to the road (5-0, 4.64 ERA) but finally got a victory this year at Camden Yards. The Yankees hit quite a few balls hard off Hammel, but he gave up two runs and six hits with two walks and six strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

With the score 6-2 entering the ninth, there was no save situation for Jim Johnson, who has been very undependable lately. He stayed in the bullpen, and the Orioles ended up winning the series.

Former Yank Dickerson hurts old club

The streak of the Yankees winning games in which they score first came to an end Tuesday night because the Orioles scored last. Nate McLouth’s home run off a 1-1 pitch from Vidal Nuno, the Yankees’ sixth pitcher of the game, was the difference in a 3-2, 10-inning decision. The Yanks had been 19-0 in games when they got on the scoreboard first, which they did again Tuesday night but this time they couldn’t pull it off.

For the second straight night, a Yankees starting pitcher gave up two leads. Monday night it was CC Sabathia in a game the Yanks won also in 10 innings. Tuesday night it was Phil Hughes, once again haunted by the long ball. The culprit was former teammate Chris Dickerson, who touched Hughes for solo blasts in the third inning (climaxing a 10-pitch at-bat) that made the score 1-1 and in the fifth that made it 2-2.

Dickerson hit only three home runs in 64 at-bats for the Yankees in short stretches with the club in 2011 and 2012. He played center field Tuesday night to give Adam Jones a half-night off as the designated hitter and had a 3-for-4 game to raise his 2013 batting average to .371 with three homers and eight RBI.

If not for Dickerson, it would have been a splendid start for Hughes, who was coming off an embarrassing, two-thirds of an inning outing last week against Seattle at Yankee Stadium in which he was clocked for seven earned runs and six hits. The righthander rebounded with a solid, six-inning effort in which he yielded five hits with two walks and five strikeouts. Hughes could not get Dickerson out, which cost him. Phil has given up 10 home runs in 47 1/3 innings.

Travis Hafner drove in both runs for the Yankees with singles that scored teammates who had led off innings with doubles, Brett Gardner in the first and Vernon Wells in the fourth. Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez proved nearly untouchable after Hafner’s second run-scoring hit as the righthander retired 11 straight batters until David Adams singled with two down in the seventh. Nick Markakis’ diving catch of a liner to right-center by Jayson Nix ended the inning.

Adams was the Yankees’ only base runner after the fourth inning as the Orioles set down 21 of the Yankees’ last 22 batters. Tommy Hunter pitched two scoreless innings for Baltimore, and Jim Johnson added a shutout 10th. Johnson, who had blown his three previous save opportunities, including Monday night, ended up the winning pitcher.

The Yanks’ bullpen was strong, too. Boone Logan, Shawn Kelley, David Robertson and Preston Claiborne followed Hughes with three scoreless innings combined to stretch the pen’s shutout streak on the road to 29 2/3 innings over the past 11 away games, which ended in the 10th. Robertson was particularly impressive by striking out the side in the eighth.

Nuno, the lefthander who won his first major-league start eight days earlier, was recalled from Triple A Scranton to sub for the disabled Andy Pettitte in the rotation, lost his scheduled start to Sunday’s rainout and was plenty fresh to come out of the bullpen. He probably still is. After all, he threw merely three pitches.

O’s closer proves there is only one Rivera

What Yankees fans never see from Mariano Rivera was what Orioles fans witnessed Monday night from Jim Johnson. The Orioles closer, who led the American League is saves last season with 51, sustained his third consecutive blown save, something that Rivera has never done, and the Yankees took advantage of it to come away with a 6-4, 10-inning victory.

Johnson was gone by the time the Yankees scored the deciding runs in the extra inning off Pedro Strop and Brian Matusz with clutch hitting by Vernon Wells and Travis Hafner. Rivera kept the lead intact with his 17th save in 17 opportunities. Johnson began the season with a similar streak with 14 saves before coming unglued in his past three appearances.

Hafner dealt the crushing blow to Johnson this time with a one-out home run in the ninth, the Yankees’ fourth solo shot of the evening in Baltimore’s humid Inner Harbor air. Johnson’s latest failure opened the gates for the Yankees to improve their record in games where they get on the scoreboard first to 19-0 and extend the Orioles’ losing streak to six games.

The Yankees were in danger of losing their first game when they scored first because their offense was reduced to the long ball with no one on base and CC Sabathia blew leads of 2-0 and 3-2. Robinson Cano and Orioles first baseman Chris Davis entered the game tied for the AL lead in home runs with 12 and maintained that tie as each got his 13th in his first at-bat.

David Adams, the rookie who has done so well at third base and turned a few more good plays Monday night, hit his first career home run to put the Yankees up, 2-0, in the second, but Davis made it 2-1 in the bottom of the second and Nick Markakis singled in the tying run in the fifth.

It was a strange start for Sabathia, who allowed a double-digit hit total (11) for the second game in a row (23 total in his past 12 2/3 innings) and had only two strikeouts, although he did not walk a batter. The lefthander is winless in four starts since April 27. Former teammate Freddy Garcia actually pitched better. He allowed the two solo homers and just one other hit with two walks and two strikeouts in six innings.

Lyle Overbay’s leadoff homer in the seventh off lefthander Troy Patton put the Yankees ahead again, but Sabathia couldn’t hold the advantage as the Orioles grabbed the lead on RBI doubles by Markakis and J.J. Hardy. Shawn Kelley stopped the O’s there with two more strikeouts. He added a third in the eighth, which gives the righthander 15 of the past 21 batters he has faced and 33 in 18 1/3 innings for the season.

Baltimore manager Buck Showalter entrusted the lead to Johnson, who began the ninth by retiring Cano on a groundout. Johnson fell behind 3-1 in the count to Hafner, who drove a 94-miles-per-hour fastball over the left field fence for his eighth home run. The Yankees were back in business.

Johnson’s woes have come after a run of 35 consecutive saves dating to last July. He has given up eight earned runs and nine hits in 2 1/3 innings (30.86 ERA) in the three blown saves, which has driven his season ERA from 0.95 to 4.22.

In the 10th, Ichiro Suzuki ran his Camden Yards hitting streak to 20 games with a leadoff double off Strop, a reliever who has struggled against the Yankees. Vernon Wells, riding the bench despite having good career numbers against Garcia (.438, one home run), came up as a pinch hitter for shortstop Reid Brignac and doubled to left to send home Ichiro.

Austin Romine bunted Wells to third, but Wells could not advance as Jayson Nix grounded out. After Cano was intentionally walked, Hafner delivered an insurance run with a line single to right off the left-handed Matusz. Rivera then showed Johnson how it’s done with a 1-2-3 bottom of the 10th.

Hafner. Wells. Overbay. There are those names again. Yankees fans are getting used to seeing these guys do important stuff.

Umpire’s blown call stalls Yankees’ comeback

You did not need a high-definition television to see that the Yankees got jobbed Saturday night at Baltimore in a game that could have repercussions down the line. The call by first base umpire Jerry Meals that completed a game-ending double play that hung the Yankees with a 5-4 defeat was so blatantly wrong that it would turn a baseball purist into an avid campaigner for instant replay.

Trailing by two runs entering the ninth inning, the Yankees staged a rally against Orioles closer Jim Johnson, who has had a lights-out season. Ichiro Suzuki and Eric Chavez both singled to left field, and Derek Jeter dumped a beauty of a bunt toward a hesitating Manny Machado, the Birds’ rookie third baseman, that filled the bases with none out.

Nick Swisher, mired in a 0-for-24 slump, grounded into a fielder’s choice but averted a double play as Ichiro scored to make it a one-run game and pinch runner Chris Dickerson moved up to third base.

That brought up Mark Teixeira, who returned to duty after missing 10 games because of a left calf strain (the Yankees were 4-6 in those games). He doubled in his first at-bat and ran at less than full strength throughout the game. A double play was certainly feared if he hit the ball on the ground, which he did to the second baseman, Robert Andino.

But Tex ran full throttle down the line and dived head-first into first base, a maneuver usually frowned on but in this case understandable considering the circumstances and the health of the runner. With the naked eye, Teixeira appeared safe, but Meals rung him up. DP. Game over.

Replays clearly showed that Teixeira’s left hand was on the bag before first baseman Mark Reynolds caught the relay from shortstop J.J. Hardy. Teixeira, already hot from the previous inning on a called third strike by plate umpire Cory Blaser, was furious with Meals’ call, as was first base coach Mick Kelleher, not a regular griper.

Michael Kay on YES overstated the situation by saying the call “cost the Yankees a game.” Well, no. Had Teixeira been ruled safe, which he should have been, Dickerson would have scored, but that would have only tied the game. The Yankees would have had two outs and a runner on first with Alex Rodriguez at the plate, a good situation but no guarantee that they were going to take the lead.

Nevertheless, it was a lousy way for a game to end.

The Yankees were counting on an ace-like performance from CC Sabathia to create distance between them and the Orioles in the American League East standings. The lefthander had the same problem other Yankees pitchers have had against Baltimore, however, in failing to defuse its power.

The Orioles slugged three home runs off Sabathia, who has now yielded 21 dingers, the most he has allowed in any one season. For the third straight start, Sabathia was unable to hold a lead. He was given a 1-0 lead before he took the mound on a Rodriguez sacrifice fly in the top of the first and was up, 2-0, courtesy of an RBI double by Ichiro in the second.

Just as quickly, the edge was gone as Sabathia allowed back-to-back home runs by Reynolds and Lew Ford in the bottom of the second. It was Reynolds’ seventh home run in his past six games against the Yankees. The Orioles took the lead for good on a double by Hardy in the third. Hardy also took CC deep in the sixth, and Ford struck again with an RBI single.

Camden Yards was something of a comfort zone in his career. Entering this season, CC was 10-1 with a 2.73 ERA in 85 2/3 innings there. This season has been a different story. In three starts at the Yards this year, he is 0-2 with a 6.38 ERA. Sabathia did not have his best fastball and hung some sliders in his uneven outing.

One fastball was definitely powerful, the one that struck Nick Markakis in the fifth inning and broke his left hand, which will finish him for the regular season, a major blow for the Orioles.

A-Rod’s 646th career home run, a two-out solo shot off Pedro Strop in the eighth, kept the Yanks close enough to make a late-game run at it, which the blatantly blown call stifled.

“Sometimes I think the umpires just want to go home,” Teixeira said afterward, a comment that could warrant his being fined.

He probably won’t play in today’s series finale as he surely aggravated his physical condition. Manager Joe Girardi was not as fierce in his postgame comments, which was smart. He is well aware that the same umpire who blew it at first base will be working the plate Sunday.

Record of Yanks’ rotation falls under .500

The disease of ineffectiveness that has infected the Yankees’ rotation all season finally hit on Ivan Nova. The righthander’s 15-game winning streak came to an abrupt halt Wednesday night as the Orioles won the rubber game of the series, 5-0.

Nova did his usual dance act for six innings by allowing a couple of runs but preventing really big innings by limiting Baltimore hitters to two hits in 11 at-bats (.182) with runners in scoring position. His luck ran out in the seventh inning, however, as the Orioles poured across three runs to pull away.

After Nick Markakis led off with a home run to right, Nova hit Adam Jones with a pitch and moments later watched him score on a double off the top of the fence in right-center by Matt Wieters, who had homered earlier. Nick Johnson’s single up the middle off reliever Clay Rapada brought in the third run of the inning.

Nova, whose record fell to 3-1 and ERA rose to 5.58, had a little bit of everything in this one. He allowed five earned runs and nine hits, struck a batter and threw a wild pitch in 6 1/3 innings. The loss was his first since June 3, 2011 and kept intact Roger Clemens’ franchise record of 16 consecutive victories in 2001.

The loss also dipped the rotation’s winning percentage below .500 for the first time this year at 9-10 with a 5.89 ERA. Yankees starters have allowed 161 hits, including 25 home runs, in 133 innings. A lot of those numbers belong to Freddy Garcia, who made his first relief appearance of the season in the eighth and ninth innings and perhaps for the first time all year was the Yankees’ most effective pitcher in a game.

The Yankees’ offense could not rescue Nova this time as they were shut down by Orioles righthander Jake Arietta, who had allowed nine runs in 10 innings over his previous two starts. The Yankees managed five singles off Arietta, who walked none and struck out nine in eight innings. They were limited to three runs in 26 innings against Baltimore pitchers in the series. The Yankees had only five runners in scoring position in the three games, none in the finale.

Already hurting with Brett Gardner disabled because of a bruised right wrist and Nick Swisher nursing a tender left hamstring, the Yankees lost infielder Eric Chavez to whiplash and a possible concussion. He was forced from the game amid an at-bat in the fifth inning because of dizziness. In the top of that inning, Chavez at third base dived for a ball that became a double by J.J. Hardy and may have injured his neck.

The Orioles gave the Yankees a collective pain in the neck, which will need some soothing in the upcoming series in Kansas City.

Starters’ work improving

Things are looking up for a change in the Yankees’ rotation. One night after CC Sabathia lent eight strong innings to a victory, Hiroki Kuroda provided seven solid innings of his own in a 2-1, nip-and-tuck battle with the Orioles.

Kuroda not only displayed effectiveness on the mound Monday night but also agility off it as he combined with catcher Russell Martin for the defensive play of the game that cut down the potential tying run in the seventh inning.

The Japanese righthander got himself in trouble that inning by giving up a leadoff single to Nick Markakis, hitting Matt Wieters with a pitch and throwing a wild pitch that put runners on second and third with one out. Kuroda recovered nicely to strike out Chris Davis on a splitter.

The next hitter was left-handed-swinging Wilson Betemit. Kuroda had a base open and strikeout machine Mark Reynolds on deck, but the Yankees decided to go after Betemit. A 1-0 splitter bounced off Martin and rolled a few feet to the left of the plate. Markakis made a dash off third base, and so did Kuroda off the mound. Martin retrieved the ball and made a back-handed throw to Kuroda, who blocked the plate and applied a sweeping tag on Markakis in one motion for a stylish third out.

“That was an outstanding play on both sides,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You get a little worried about the pitcher there because his knees are exposed, but Hiroki was fine. As for Russell, he is as athletic as anyone I have ever seen behind the plate.”

“Tenacity pays off in the end,” Kuroda said. “I have complete faith in Russell.”

The relationship between Kuroda and Martin dates to their time together as teammates with the Dodgers. Kuroda’s comfort level was evident in how trusting he was of Martin in throwing split-fingered fastballs with runners on base.

“He pitched effectively inside,” Girardi said. “He attacked the zone all night.”

Kuroda, who improved his record to 2-3 with a 3.69 ERA, allowed one run, four hits, a walk and a hit batter with three strikeouts in seven innings. David Robertson came on the eighth and struck out the side, and Mariano Rivera finished it off in the ninth for his fifth save. It was Mo’s 1,051st career appearance, moving past Kent Tekulve into eighth place on the all-time games list.