Cano powers Yankees to another win

May 21, 2009 9:41:34 PM PDT
The New York Yankees have racked up victories in a variety of ways during their nine-game winning streak. This one had an extra degree of difficulty after right-hander Joba Chamberlain was knocked out in the first inning with a bruised right knee.

Robinson Cano drove in three runs, Alfredo Aceves led a solid effort by a depleted bullpen and the surging Yankees shrugged off Chamberlain's injury in a 7-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night.

"That's a tough game because you're asking an awful lot out of your bullpen," manager Joe Girardi said. "We were somewhat fortunate."

Cano hit an RBI double in New York's four-run first and a two-run shot in the second. Melky Cabrera, subbing for a sore Johnny Damon, had a two-run double in the first and Hideki Matsui connected in the fifth to give Yankee Stadium the record for most homers in a ballpark's first 20 games.

"It feels great," said Mariano Rivera, who tossed a perfect ninth for his 57th save against Baltimore, his most against any team. "We're playing together. We're playing as a team."

Rivera's second save in two days and ninth in 10 opportunities this season capped an admirable effort by New York's bullpen. Aceves (3-0) followed Chamberlain with 3 1-3 scoreless innings. Jonathan Albaladejo allowed four runs and five hits over 2 1-3 innings but Jose Veras got three outs to get the ball to Rivera.

Aceves hasn't allowed a run in 9 1-3 innings over his last five appearances since May 13.

"He's been pitching great," Cano said.

New York last won nine in a row June 5-14, 2007.

Brian Roberts and Nick Markakis went deep for the Orioles, who have lost four straight and five of six. Ty Wigginton hit a two-run double in the sixth to end an 0-for-16 skid by Baltimore pinch hitters to open the season.

"It was good to get back in the game and for me to contribute," Wigginton said. "But unfortunately we fell short."

Chamberlain didn't last very long in his first start against the Orioles since Aubrey Huff mocked him with two exaggerated fist pumps while he rounded the bases following a three-run homer off the demonstrative right-hander on May 10.

Adam Jones' one-out liner in the first inning hit Chamberlain just above his right knee. He threw to first to retire the center fielder, took a few shaky steps near the mound then bent over as Girardi and trainer Gene Monahan came out of the dugout.

"I was concerned when he got hit because when a guy gets hit there in the leg right away you can't tell if it's off the kneecap, or where it's at," Girardi said. "There was some concern. It's probably fortunate that he got a little bit of glove on it."

After a short conference, Chamberlain threw a couple of warmup pitches and remained in the game. Markakis then singled ahead of Huff, who was booed each time he came to the plate and dumped Chamberlain's second pitch into the right-field corner for another single.

That brought Girardi and Monahan out to the mound again and this time Chamberlain walked gingerly toward the dugout. Aceves then got Melvin Mora to fly out to end the inning.

The Yankees said X-rays on Chamberlain's knee were negative, and he insisted he would make his next start.

"I'm 100 percent confident," he said. "Did some tests and it felt fine, a little stiff obviously but that's just going to be the way it is. We'll come back tomorrow and get after it."

Derek Jeter, Cano and Mark Teixeira opened the bottom half of the first with consecutive doubles off Adam Eaton (2-5) to give the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Cabrera came up with his big hit after Eaton walked Nick Swisher with two outs.

"Eaton did not pitch well but we found a way to make a game of it," manager Dave Trembley said. "We had the tying run at the plate and from where we started it was a lot to ask of our guys but we did the best we could."

Eaton allowed seven runs and eight hits in 4 2-3 innings. He is 0-2 with a 13.03 ERA in his last two starts, leaving his spot in the rotation in jeopardy.

"The curveball wasn't there at all," he said. "Definitely trying to pitch without one of your best pitches is hard. The numbers don't lie obviously and I think I've got better stuff than I have shown."

Markakis' solo shot in the seventh was the 75th at New York's $1.5 billion stadium, putting it two ahead of the previous mark for the first 20 games at a new park. Puerto Rico's Hiram Bithorn Stadium was the record holder, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Notes: Orioles SS Cesar Izturis (strained left groin) ran in the outfield, fielded some grounders and took batting practice before the game.