Yankees 3, Orioles 2

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BALTIMORE (AP)—The New York Yankees were without two of their most prolific hitters, making it imperative that Chien-Ming Wang keep the Baltimore Orioles’ offense in check.

Wang did his job, and with help from Derek Jeter, the Yankees pulled out a 3-2 victory Saturday.

Wang pitched effectively into the eighth inning to earn his 17th win, and Jeter had two hits and an RBI to help Yankees bounce back from a 9-4 loss to Baltimore less than 24 hours earlier.

“He’s been as good as anyone in the league this year,” Jeter said of Wang. “And he’s pitched well when we’ve needed it.”

The Yankees played without first baseman Jason Giambi, who’s nursing a hand injury, and third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who was ill. Closer Mariano Rivera (forearm soreness) was also unavailable.

But New York had Wang and Jeter, and that was enough to send the Orioles to their fifth loss in six games. With the victory and Boston’s loss, New York has a season-high 10-game lead over the Red Sox.

Wang (17-5) allowed one run and eight hits in 7 1-3 innings, striking out one and walking none. He permitted only one runner past second base despite retiring the side in order just twice.

The right-hander has won four straight decisions and is 9-1 in his last 12 starts. Wang is now tied with Minnesota ace Johan Santana and Chicago starter Jon Garland for the major league lead with 17 wins.

Just as important to the Yankees is that he’s 8-2 following a New York defeat.

“It’s not fair to keep counting on him the way we do, but it’s hard not to, as consistent as he’s been for us,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “It doesn’t seem to bother him what the situation is. We really haven’t given him a great deal of run support, which makes every single pitch precious, but he’s been something.”

Mike Myers and Scott Proctor each got an out in the eighth, and Kyle Farnsworth worked the ninth for his third save despite giving up a solo homer to Kevin Millar.

Jeter went 2-for-4 in extending his career-high hitting streak to 19 games. After Johnny Damon doubled off reliever Rodrigo Lopez in the eighth, Jeter hit an RBI single for a 3-1 lead.

Orioles rookie Adam Loewen (5-5) gave up two runs and six hits in seven innings. The left-hander is 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in four starts against New York.

“Today was just a case of getting outpitched,” Loewen said. “We played a very good game defensively, and we swung the bats well. But we went up against a Cy Young candidate today.”

Despite the loss, Loewen relished turning in another fine performance against the AL East leaders.

“They’re the toughest lineup in all of baseball,” he said, “so when you’re building for the future, it’s a very positive thing to pitch well against them.”

Jeter hit a two-out double in the first inning to extend his hitting streak, but Loewen struck out Jorge Posada to end the threat. It would be the last time New York got a runner in scoring position until the fifth, when Kevin Thompson drew a one-out walk and took second on a single by Nick Green.

Damon then poked a 3-1 pitch to right for an RBI single and Melky Cabrera followed with a sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

Wang retired 10 of the first 11 batters before Nick Markakis and Miguel Tejada hit successive singles with one out in the fourth. Jay Gibbons then hit a popup before Wang struck out Millar.

The Orioles also got two on with two outs in the fifth before Wang retired Melvin Mora on a grounder to third.

Baltimore closed to 2-1 in the seventh. Millar led off with a double and was at third with two outs when Brandon Fahey snapped a 4-for-43 slump with an RBI single.

But that was the extent of the Orioles’ production against Wang.

“To win 17 games, aside from being good, you still have to benefit from the team scoring some runs, and we really haven’t given him a lot of run support,” Torre said. “So I think it’s been pretty impressive what he’s done.”

Notes

Orioles C Ramon Hernandez, who was limping after being struck above the left ankle by a pitch from Sean Henn on Friday night, did not start Saturday. He pinch hit in the ninth and grounded out. … New York has won 20 games, nearly one-fourth their total of 84, when Wang starts. … New York is 38-21 since July 4.

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