Yankees 8, Orioles 5

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NEW YORK (AP)—Randy Johnson struggled all afternoon and still avoided a loss. With this much run support from the Yankees, the Big Unit will be tough to beat.

Ruben Sierra snapped a seventh-inning tie with a three-run homer, and New York rallied from four runs down to get Johnson off the hook and defeat the Baltimore Orioles 8-5 on Saturday.

“That was not one of Randy Johnson’s better starts, and to come out of it with a win—that’s a good sign,” manager Joe Torre said.

Mariano Rivera earned the save after blowing his first two chances this season against Boston, and Jason Giambi hit his first homer since Sept. 21.

New York also caught a break when shortstop Miguel Tejada couldn’t come up with a two-out popup by Hideki Matsui that went for a tying double.

Making his second start in pinstripes, Johnson was missing his best stuff. He gave up five runs—four earned—and eight hits in six innings, six days after beating Boston 9-2 in the season opener.

“I never was feeling like I could get into the flow of the game. You feel like you have to make a perfect pitch in every situation,” Johnson said. “I’m pleased we won the game. That matters most. I just tried to keep it close.”

The Big Unit also hit a batter with a pitch and walked reserve Chris Gomez with the bases loaded in the fourth, when the Orioles sent nine hitters to the plate—the third straight game an opponent has batted around in an inning against the Yankees.

Tejada’s two-run single off Johnson capped the outburst, giving Baltimore a 5-1 lead.

“You try to get him to keep his shoulder back. It seems like he wanted to do too much out there,” New York catcher Jorge Posada said.

The Yankees fought back, a welcomed change for Johnson, who was only 16-14 last season with last-place Arizona because of a startling lack of run support.

Alex Rodriguez had three hits and an RBI, and Giambi’s solo shot to right off Bruce Chen cut it to 5-2 in the fourth.

“It felt great to get the first one,” Giambi said.

Rodriguez barreled into second baseman Brian Roberts to break up a double play in the fifth, allowing a run to score when the ball popped free for an error on Roberts.

He was shaken up but remained in the game, cotton stuffed in his nose to stop the bleeding.

Chen left with a 5-3 lead, but Gary Sheffield’s two-out RBI single in the seventh off Steve Reed (0-1) made it a one-run game.

Left-hander Steve Kline came on to face Matsui, who poked a high popup down the left-field line. It was a difficult play for Tejada, who never quite got under the ball. It dropped just inside the line and bounced into the stands for an RBI double, tying the score at 5.

“That’s a base hit,” Tejada said. “It’s a tough play.”

Left fielder B.J. Surhoff thought he could have gotten there—but the sun obstructed his view. That’s why he wasn’t able to call off Tejada.

“I could have caught it, I just couldn’t see it. I just didn’t know where it was,” Surhoff said. “Perfect placement by him.”

Sierra hit the next pitch over the left-field fence for an 8-5 lead, and the Yankees were on their way.

Kline also gave up a tiebreaking, three-run homer to Oakland’s Eric Byrnes on Thursday night.

“I wasn’t really concerned with Sierra. I didn’t think he could really hit down and away,” Kline said. “Guys are cheating and getting what they’re getting off me. I can’t explain anything right now. I’m a little irritated.”

Tanyon Sturtze (1-0) pitched a scoreless seventh for the win, and Tom Gordon worked a perfect eighth. Rivera gave up a leadoff double to Roberts in the ninth, but that was it.

“I didn’t think anything was different. I just worked on some stuff in the bullpen,” Rivera said.

Chen kept the Yankees off-balance with soft stuff, allowing three runs—two earned—and eight hits in six innings. He struck out six and walked none in his first outing after throwing 14 2-3 scoreless innings in spring training to win the No. 5 starter’s job.

“I felt like I did everything I could to give us a chance to win,” Chen said. “It’s a tough loss.”


Sammy Sosa got his first stolen base since May 13, 2002, with the Cubs. He had three 30-steal seasons from 1990-95. … Sosa is still looking for his first RBI and run with Baltimore. … The Orioles tried a suicide squeeze in the sixth but Roberts missed the bunt and Gomez was tagged out by Posada. … New York CF Bernie Williams singled for his first hit this season in 13 at-bats. … Johnson struck out four and walked one. He threw 100 pitches. … Javy Lopez’s shattered bat went flying on a foul ball in the seventh, sending Rodriguez scampering away at third.

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