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McLouth rewards manager's faith with walk-off homer

The SportsXchange

BALTIMORE -- Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter considered pinch-hitting for Nate McLouth when the New York Yankees brought in left-hander Vidal Nuno to pitch in the 10th inning. The skipper decided against it, and that proved to be the best move Showalter didn't make all night.

McLouth led off the bottom of the 10th inning with a home run off Nuno, and the Orioles snapped a six-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the Yankees.

Showalter considered pinch-hitting because McLouth's a left-handed hitter, and he'd be facing a lefty. But Showalter eventually decided to let McLouth hit.

"You'd have to make two moves if you do," Showalter said. "We had talked about Nuno coming in. Nate's an easy guy to trust. Like they say, sometimes the best managing you do is the managing you don't do."

McLouth sent a 1-1 pitch over the fence in right-center off Nuno (1-1). It was McLouth's fourth homer of the season and the second walk-off shot of his career, a blast that stopped the Baltimore (24-21) losing skid.

"It was important, just to kind of put that little streak behind us," McLouth said. "Walk-offs are always exciting. I'd never faced him before, and just kind of trying to see the ball out over the plate, and it was a breaking ball pretty much right down the middle."

Nuno was pitching in just his third major-league game. He got the win in his last appearance, when he threw five innings in a May 13 start against Cleveland.

But Nuno wasn't as fortunate this time.

"For any reliever, to bring them into a 2-2 game is not an easy position," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Struggling Baltimore closer Jim Johnson, who blew his last three save chances, got the win.

Johnson (2-4) came on in the top of the 10th with the game tied. He missed on save chances against the San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Yankees in the past week, but he needed just eight pitches to retire New York in order Tuesday.

"I'd like to get back out there again tomorrow," he said. "It's all I ever want to do. You always want to end the downturn as soon as you can so hopefully this is the start to putting us in the right direction."

New York (28-17) lost a game after scoring first for the first time this season. The Yankees, who got a run in the top of the first, are now 19-1 in those games.

Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez, who came off the 15-day disabled list before the game after recovering from a blister on his right thumb, made an effective start. In his first appearance since May 3 against the Los Angeles Angels, Gonzalez gave up two runs on five hits in seven innings.

"I think having that rest helped me out a little bit," Gonzalez said. "Last year, they pushed me back a couple of times and working with Rick Adair in the bullpen and between starts helped me out pretty good."

New York starter Phil Hughes also had a good rebound performance. He didn't make it out of the first inning of his last start, but this time he allowed two runs on five hits in six innings.

The Yankees jumped ahead in the first inning for the second consecutive night. Brett Gardner led off with a double off Gonzalez and scored on Travis Hafner's two-out single for a 1-0 New York lead.

Baltimore caught up in the third when Chris Dickerson led off with a homer to right-center against Hughes.

The Yankees quickly took the lead back in the top of the fifth. Vernon Wells led off with a double and scored the tie-breaking run when Hafner followed with an RBI single.

Dickerson struck again in the fifth, crushing a Hughes fastball far over the right-field scoreboard to tie the game at 2-2. But the Orioles left two on with two outs for the second time when Adam Jones grounded back to Hughes.

NOTES: Several media outlets are reporting that Baltimore's top draft pick from last year, RHP Kevin Gausman, will make his major-league debut Thursday night against the Blue Jays in Toronto. ... The multi-homer game was the first of Dickerson's career, and he's now got an eight-game hitting streak ... Jones remains perfect in stolen bases. He stole a base Monday and now is 8-for-8 this season -- but he was the DH in this game, giving his sore right leg a rest. ... New York came into this game as the only major-league team not to lose a game this season when scoring the first run. The Yankees did that again Monday night and improved to 19-0 on the season when getting on the board first. ... Yankees RHP Shawn Kelley entered in the seventh inning and retired the only batter he faced on a popout. Kelley has struck out 15 of the last 22 batters he's faced and 33 overall in 19 innings.
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