Orioles 6, Yankees 4

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NEW YORK (AP)—This was exactly how the Baltimore Orioles planned it: build a lead, then hand it to the big-money bullpen.

Four games into the season, they finally got a chance to do that.

The Orioles roughed up Mike Mussina in his 2007 debut and their new relievers protected a late lead, helping Baltimore beat the New York Yankees 6-4 Friday night for its first victory of the year.

“If the guys that we added come in and do the job like that all season, we’re going to win some games,” manager Sam Perlozzo said. “We used everything we had to win the game tonight.”

Adam Loewen again held New York’s powerful lineup in check, Melvin Mora played an outstanding all-around game and Baltimore avoided opening 0-4 for the first time since the 1988 team lost its first 21 games—a major league record to start a season.

“It was really no time to panic. But I just felt like we needed to win a ballgame,” Perlozzo said.

Robinson Cano drove in two runs for New York, but Alex Rodriguez failed to come through in another big situation and the Yankees dropped their second straight since an opening-day victory over Tampa Bay. They went 3-for-14 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight at second or third.

“They pitched well when we had guys on base,” Derek Jeter said.

Jeter fouled a ball off his right foot in the first inning and came out in the ninth with a bruised toe. X-rays were negative and he said he would play Saturday.

“It’s no big deal. It’s sore, but I’ve got nine other ones,” Jeter said.

Mora got three hits and scored twice. He also had a delayed steal and made a diving catch at third base. Nick Markakis doubled twice and drove in two runs, and Jay Gibbons added a two-run single for Baltimore.

Trailing 6-3, the Yankees put their first two batters on against Chad Bradford in the seventh, but Rodriguez waved at strike three and was booed loudly. The night before, he popped out with the bases loaded to end the eighth inning of a 7-6 loss to the Devil Rays.

Jamie Walker came on and fanned Jason Giambi before walking Hideki Matsui and giving up an RBI single to Jorge Posada. But Walker retired Cano to end the inning, and Danys Baez pitched a perfect eighth to set up Chris Ray for his first save.

“That’s what we paid for,” Gibbons said.

Looking to provide support for their young starting pitchers, the Orioles spent $41.5 million in the offseason on three relievers: Baez, Walker and Bradford.

“If our starter comes out with a lead it’s going to be tough to beat us,” Ray said.

Loewen, the fourth overall pick in the 2002 draft, pitched out of trouble. He allowed two runs and five hits in five innings, again showing he can handle the high-powered Yankees.

The 22-year-old left-hander went 2-1 with a 2.63 ERA in four starts against New York as a rookie last year, limiting the Yankees to a .205 batting average.

“It’s good to have those kind of stats against anybody,” Loewen said. “I really wasn’t nervous at all after I came out of the game. I felt confident they’d get the job done.”

Loewen (1-0) was coming off a terrific spring—he was 4-1 with a 1.64 ERA in six starts, with 23 strikeouts in 22 innings.

“He’s a pretty smart kid out there,” Perlozzo said.

Mussina (0-1) wasn’t nearly as effective in his first outing of the season. Looking for his 240th career win on a 41-degree night, he threw 84 pitches in four innings against his former team. He gave up six runs and eight hits— including four doubles. Mussina also walked three and hit Miguel Tejada with a pitch.

The 38-year-old right-hander, a stickler for staying on his routine, was pitching for the first time in a week because of Wednesday’s rainout.

“It was just bad. I could say it was the cold, I could say it was the time off—it was bad. It was a struggle from the very first pitch. I really didn’t give us a chance. We count on our rotation a lot, and it’s going to make or break our season,” Mussina said. “For most of the 80-some pitches I threw, I didn’t know where the ball was going.”

Corey Patterson had an RBI double in the third and Aubrey Huff added a two-out RBI single in the fourth for Baltimore.

Notes

Loewen also won his only other outing at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 16. … Yankees CF Johnny Damon (mild strain in right calf) was feeling much better and won’t be placed on the disabled list, general manager Brian Cashman said. Damon didn’t play but took batting practice and hopes to be available Saturday. … The Yankees played errorless baseball after making three errors in each of their first two games.

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