By BEN WALKER AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) _ Hiroki Kuroda pitched seven neat innings and
teamed with catcher Russell Martin to nab Nick Markakis at the
plate in the key play of the game, lifting the New York Yankees
over the Baltimore Orioles 2-1 Monday night.
Eric Chavez hit an early two-run homer as the Yankees beat
Baltimore once again. They are 4-0 against the Orioles this year,
43-15 over the O’s since 2009 and have not lost any of the last 14
season series to them.
The loss denied Buck Showalter his 1,000th win as a big league
manager _ his first victory came in 1992 next door at the old
Yankee Stadium. Baltimore lost for the second time in eight games.
New York made several sparkling plays in the field, including
two by novice left fielder Eduardo Nunez. But the top gem came on
Kuroda’s final pitch.
Down 2-1 in the seventh, the Orioles had runners on second and
third with two outs. Kuroda bounced a splitter in the dirt and
Martin blocked it, with the ball skittering toward Baltimore’s
dugout on the third base side.
Markakis broke home while Martin quickly recovered and made a
backhand flip to Kuroda, who planted his right foot directly in the
runner’s path. Markakis had to reach around Kuroda’s leg, and the
pitcher’s perfect fundamentals gave him time to make the tag just
Kuroda (2-3) allowed one run and four hits while outpitching
steady Jason Hammel (3-1).
David Robertson struck out the side in the eighth for the
Yankees and Mariano Rivera closed for his fifth save in six
chances. A day after Baltimore rallied for five runs in the bottom
of the ninth to beat Oakland, there was no comeback against the New
Chavez put New York ahead with his third homer, a drive into the
Yankees’ bullpen in right-center field in the second.
With Nick Swisher hobbling and fellow outfielder Brett Gardner
injured, Nunez got his first big league start in left field. He
wound up catching five flyballs, matching the most by any Yankees
outfielder this season.
Nunez caught Nolan Reimold’s leadoff liner, slid on his knees to
pluck Markakis’ liner to end the first and grabbed Chris Davis’
sacrifice fly at the wall in the second. Before the game, Yankees
manager Joe Girardi joked that even when he tried Nunez in the
outfield during spring training, no balls were hit his way.
NOTES: Swisher is expected to miss a week with a strained left
hamstring. … Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds went 0 for 3. He has
not homered in 63 at-bats this year _ this is his first April
without a home run. … Reimold’s 14-game hitting streak ended. …
Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte gave up six runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3
innings vs. the Phillies in an extended spring training game. He
struck out eight, walked none and threw 96 pitches. … Six current
MLB managers already have at least 1,000 wins: Dusty Baker, Bruce
Bochy, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland, Mike Scioscia and Bobby
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)