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Beltran's homer in ninth wins it for Yankees

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK - Although Carlos Beltran's recent at-bats had not necessarily produced results, the New York Yankees felt it was only a matter of time before he would get a significant hit.

Those feelings were validated Friday night.

Beltran hit a three-run home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Yankees rallied for a 5-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles and extended their winning streak to four games.

"Honestly I was trying to get a base hit, hit a ball down the middle and I got a good pitch to hit," said Beltran. "As soon as I hit it, I knew it was going to be a home run. It's a great feeling every time you can win a ballgame."

Beltran came into the game with eight hits in 43 at-bats since returning on June 5 from a 21-game absence due to a right elbow injury that is limiting him to being a designated hitter for now. He was 2-for-9 against the Toronto Blue Jays but was upbeat after the recent at-bats and doubled in his first at-bat.

"When you feel good at the plate, you want to be in that spot," Beltran said. "When you're not swinging the bat well, you don't want to be in that spot, but thank god the past couple of days I would say I've been feeling more comfortable at the plate and I've been putting good at-bats together and I just felt confident that I was going to do something positive."

"It's been somewhat of a struggle and then he got hurt, but you can just see him starting to square balls up," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "You saw it in Oakland and it continued on this homestand and to have a huge hit, everyone wants to be able to do that and that's a huge contribution."

Beltran's biggest hit as a Yankee came when Baltimore closer Zach Britton (3-1) could not execute a 3-1 fastball. Beltran hit a towering shot over the left-field wall that left little doubt. He was greeted with a wild celebration at home plate from his teammates before getting a Gatorade shower from left fielder Brett Gardner while conducting an on-field interview.

"I know he's a tough pitcher," Beltran said. "(He throws) the ball with a lot of movement, so I just told myself to get something up in the strike zone, and once I was in 3-1, that's a hitter's count. So I got to be able to be aggressive and get a good pitch to hit."

"I knew I was one good pitch away," Britton said. "It was kind of a fight, the ball was running everywhere, made the adjustments just not when it really counted. That last pitch right there, you know he is a good high-ball hitter when he is facing a lefty so I kind of put it right where he could do some damage."

It was Beltran's eighth career walk-off home run and first since hitting one in the 13th inning for the Mets against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Shea Stadium on June 11, 2008.

Beltran's home run came on a night when the Yankees struggled to generate much offense for the first eight innings despite getting six of their seven walks against Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez and leaving the bases loaded in the fifth and sixth.

They began to stir against Britton, who blew his second save in 11 opportunities. With two outs in the ninth, catcher Brian McCann made it a one-run game with an RBI single that scored Gardner.

The Yankees used four relievers after right-hander Hiroki Kuroda took a no-hitter into the sixth and allowed two runs and four hits in six innings. David Huff (1-0) picked up the win despite allowing an unearned run in the ninth after Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton and Dellin Betances combined on two scoreless innings.

Baltimore fell to 33-3 when leading after eight innings and did not do much after catcher Nick Hundley's double broke up the no-hit bid. Designated hitter Steve Pearce drove in two runs and center fielder Adam Jones added an RBI single in the sixth off Kuroda, but Baltimore stranded six of its 10 base runners in the final three innings.

"Got some outs and just couldn't quite get that last one," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said.

. NOTES: The Yankees said that RHP Michael Pineda was undergoing a precautionary MRI before being cleared to start a throwing program as he recovers from an injured right shoulder. ... Suspended 3B Alex Rodriguez dropped his lawsuit against team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad and said he intends to play in 2015. Manager Joe Girardi did not have any comment on that. ... Baltimore manager Buck Showalter did not announce a rotation for next week's homestand and the team could still employ a six-man rotation. ... Showalter also said that he talked to C Matt Wieters following his Tommy John surgery and that Wieters will start light rehab on his elbow in Atlanta and possibly rejoin the team within the next month to continue rehabbing.
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