Orioles 5, Yankees 3
NEW YORK (AP)—Baltimore sent Roger Clemens to his quickest exit in a year, with Jeff Conine and B.J. Surhoff hitting early home runs to back Sidney Ponson and lead the Orioles over the New York Yankees 5-3 Thursday.
Clemens (9-7), in the final season of his 20-year career in the major leagues, lasted just four innings, gave up nine hits and left trailing 5-0.
Ponson (14-5) tied Toronto’s Roy Halladay and Atlanta’s Russ Ortiz for the major league lead in victories, winning his fourth straight start since a June 30 loss to the Yankees. He had been 0-8 in 14 starts against the Yankees since Sept. 19, 1998.
Ponson, who is eligible for free agency after the season, could be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline. He took a shutout into the sixth inning before the Yankees got a pair of runs, then retired Ruben Sierra on an inning-ending grounder with two on. He allowed six hits, struck out five and walked three.
Brian Roberts had a career-high four hits for the Orioles, who had 13 in all.
New York, which had led the AL East since June 12, headed to Boston after the game for a weekend series with the Red Sox.
Clemens entered with a 20-11 career record against the Orioles but fell behind four batters in. Melvin Mora was hit on the rear end with two outs and Conine, just 5-for-28 (.179) against Clemens coming in, homered on the next pitch.
Ponson hit Jason Giambi on a thigh in the bottom half, and plate umpire Mark Wegner appeared to warn both teams.
Surhoff added a solo shot in the second, just his fourth home run of the season, and Roberts hit a two-run single to right in the fourth past a drawn-in infield.
Sterling Hitchcock, also available in the trade market, relieved Clemens to start the fifth. It was Clemens’ shortest outing since June 20 last year at Colorado when he was hit by a line drive and left after four innings, and his shortest start not cut short by an injury since he lasted 3 2-3 innings at Boston on May last season.
Hitchcock had one of his better outings, allowing three hits in 3 2-3 scoreless innings and striking out five.
Ponson escaped a bases-loaded jam in the third but the Yankees finally scored in the sixth when Hideki Matsui hit an RBI single and Robin Ventura had a run-scoring single that bounced over second baseman Roberts into rightfield.
Bernie Williams was 0-for-4 and stranded six runners in his first three at-bats—his comebacker ended the third inning with the bases loaded. … Matsui’s single in the sixth extended his hitting streak to 10 games, which matches his major league high. … Soriano caught Brook Fordyce’s inning-ending liner to second base in the seventh after the ball bounced off his glove highinto the air.