Orioles 5, Yankees 3
BALTIMORE (AP)—Bidding for his 200th career victory, David Wells was virtually unhittable—two innings too late.
Juan Rivera homered for New York, which maintained its 5 1/2 -game lead over Boston in the AL East after the Red Sox lost to Tampa Bay 7-0. The Yankees, whose magic number to clinch the division is six, were 10-1 in their previous 11 games.
Wells (14-7) went the distance, allowing only one hit over his final six innings and retiring the final 13 batters. But the left-hander was undone by a poor start, as Baltimore scored five runs on six hits to take a 5-0 second-inning lead.
“He just didn’t look like he was comfortable,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “He was throwing good, he had a good bullpen. When he came in, he made some pitches down the middle and they whacked him. After that, he was terrific.”
The only runner against Wells over the final six innings was Deivi Cruz, who hit a one-out single in the fourth. He was wiped out attempting to steal.
“With the good ones, you’ve got to get them early because late in the game they’re tough,” Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said.
It was only Wells’ second road loss of the season—both of which have come this month.
He gave up seven hits, walked none and struck out four in his 42nd career complete game. Wells was bidding to become the 99th pitcher in major league history to reach 200 victories.
“It doesn’t matter if I win or if someone else wins,” he said. “It’s if the team gets the win. I’m not even thinking about that.”
DuBose (3-5) allowed three runs in 6 2-3 innings for the Orioles, who won for only the fifth time in their last 23 games against the Yankees.
DuBose, who came in 0-2 with a 14.22 ERA against the Yankees, allowed nine hits but was backed by two double plays. The left-hander was pulled after Rivera homered off the left-field foul pole to get New York to 5-3 in the seventh.
“Tonight was a battle,” DuBose said. “If I don’t have my changeup going, I’m out of there in three innings. I was able to throw my fastball enough to keep them off the changeup, and I was able to grind it out for 6 2-3 innings.”
Jorge Julio worked a perfect ninth for his 34th save in 41 tries.
With Wells mowing down the Orioles and DuBose throwing well, the game was played in a brisk 2 hours, 12 minutes.
“It didn’t take very long, so it wasn’t that painful,” Torre said.
Bigbie put the Orioles up 1-0 in the first with his eighth homer, an opposite-field drive to left.
Baltimore sent up eight batters in a four-run second. Gibbons led off with a titanic homer to right, his 23rd of the season, and Luis Matos and B.J. Surhoff followed with singles. Wells retired the next two batters, but Brian Roberts singled in a run and Jerry Hairston added an RBI double.
“I just had a bad inning,” Wells said. “The second inning, I left the first pitch down the middle of the plate. I just got pitches up that inning.”
After that, he was nearly perfect. But the Orioles already had enough runs to win.
“We were able to get ourselves in good hitting counts early,” Bigbie said. “As the game went on, he started to get hot and get ahead in the count. When he gets ahead in the count, he’s a good pitcher.”
Mike Mussina will go for his 200th career win Thursday. The game has been moved to 12:35 p.m. from 7:05 p.m. because of the threat of bad weather from Hurricane Isabel. … New York has hit eight homers in its last three games, and 212 for the season. … Baltimore has outscored the opposition 169-127 in the first two innings this season. … Bigbie extended hiscareer-high hitting streak to nine games.