BALTIMORE (AP)—The Lopez & Lopez tandem staged another successful performance, this time at the expense of the New York Yankees.
Rodrigo Lopez had gone winless in nine straight starts before Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo put Javy Lopez, the backup to Ramon Hernandez, behind the plate to catch the right-hander on May 25 in Seattle.
Lopez & Lopez have been a team for three starts now, and Rodrigo Lopez is 3-0 during that time. He blanked the Yankees through six innings before being chased in the seventh, but by that time the Orioles had built a huge lead.
On Sunday, Javy Lopez did more than just call the right pitches. He led off the second inning with a homer and hit a three-run drive in the fifth to make it 10-0. It was his 22nd career multihomer game, the first since 2004.
“A day like this is always good to have. It kind of got my confidence back where I want it,” said Lopez, who entered with three homers in 37 games. “At the same time, catching Rodrigo in another winner makes me feel even better.”
Lopez took credit for making Rodrigo Lopez pick up the pace, but said the pitcher has done most of the work in turning around his dismal start.
“Rodrigo has been the consistent the last three starts hitting the corners and keeping the ball down,” he said.
“The first two games of the series weren’t great for us (two one-run losses), but we scrounged back and got a big win today,” Millar said.
Fahey had three hits and two RBIs, and Corey Patterson stole two bases to raise his AL-leading total to 25. He has steals in eight straight games, the longest run in the majors since Kenny Lofton had an eight-game streak in 1996.
The short-handed Yankees were without Jason Giambi, who missed a second straight game with a stomach virus.
Alex Rodriguez returned after missing two games with the same ailment, going 0-for-4 with a walk, but New York lost Derek Jeter after Rodrigo Lopez hit him in the right hand with a pitch in the sixth inning. The injury was diagnosed as a bruised thumb; x-rays were negative.
“Thank goodness the results of the x-rays were fine,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “Hopefully he’ll be all right tomorrow.”
The loss dropped New York a half-game behind first-place Boston in the AL East. The teams begin a four-game series in New York on Monday.
The Yankees took two of three from the Orioles without some of their top hitters, but Torre doesn’t want to face the Red Sox without Jeter and Giambi.
“I want to be optimistic. I know if they’re not back it’s only because it’s impossible,” the manager said. “If there is any chance at all they’ll be back for that series. Everybody seems to forget what’s wrong with them.”
New York entered Sunday’s game with two impressive streaks, one of which ended. The Yankees extended their run of games with at least 10 hits to 11, but failed to take a lead for the first time in 16 games.
That’s because Rodrigo Lopez was sharp from the outset and Small yielded three homers and seven runs in 2 2-3 innings.
Small, who went 10-0 for New York last year, has a 9.67 ERA.
“Bad location,” Torre said. “When he gets hurt it’s location, because he certainly doesn’t have enough velocity to go and challenge people. He pretty much has to locate his pitches. That was the case right from the get-to today.”
Lopez homered in the second, and Baltimore batted around to take a 7-0 lead in the third. Mora hit a leadoff double and scored on a single by Tejada, who took third on a double by Hernandez. Millar hit the next pitch over the left-field wall, and Fahey chased Small with a drive off the right-field foul pole.
Javy Lopez connected off former Oriole Scott Erickson in the fifth.
Patterson singled in the bottom half, stole two bases and scored on a single by Fahey.
Small has yielded nine homers in 22 1-3 innings. Last year, he gave up four in 76 innings. … All three games in the series were sellouts, giving Baltimore four this season. … Thompson’s RBIs were his first in the majors.