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BAL@NYY: Kuroda tags out Markakis to preserve lead

NEW YORK -- The Orioles, who entered Monday in a tie with the Rays for first place in the American League East, may be new and improved, but they're still haunted by some old demons, namely the New York Yankees.

Despite a solid start from right-hander Jason Hammel, the Orioles couldn't muster enough runs to cover their starter's only mistake, resulting in an all-too-familiar result -- a 2-1 loss at the new Yankee Stadium. Baltimore, fresh off a 5-1 homestand, remains winless in all four games against the Yankees this season, following a 2011 campaign in which it went 5-13 against the division rival.

"I don't think it's anything that we have a mental block or anything like that against them," said first baseman Chris Davis, who drove in the Orioles' only run with a second-inning sacrifice fly. "We've played good; we just haven't capitalized on the opportunities to score runs. You are not going to beat a lot of teams scoring one run, even with as well as we've been pitching."

The Orioles are now 10-30 against the Yankees since the start of the 2010 season, and Monday's loss snapped Baltimore's 57-game winning streak when allowing two or fewer runs. It also handed Hammel, who entered the game ranked third in the AL in ERA, his first loss of the season despite another quality outing.

"He was the reason we had a chance to win that ballgame," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Hammel, who has gone at least five innings and allowed two earned runs or fewer in his first five starts with his new team. "He's been solid."

Making his first start against the Yankees in more than four years, Hammel -- the Orioles' most effective starter this season -- gave Baltimore six strong innings, allowing only Eric Chavez's two-run homer in the second. Following Mark Teixeira's leadoff single -- which television replays showed was actually foul -- Chavez jumped on Hammel's first pitch of the at-bat for his third long ball of the year, giving New York a 2-1 lead.

"It's tough, but I'm proud of the guys," Hammel said of an Orioles team that has twice taken the Yankees to extra innings, with three of their four losses coming by two runs or fewer. "We are playing these guys toe-to-toe. It's something we can pull out of.

"We've still got a lot of baseball to play, and we are not being taken too lightly anymore."

The Orioles certainly didn't take Monday's game lightly, with Showalter -- who briefly argued Teixeira's single before heading back to the visitors' dugout -- pointing out that his club had a lot of opportunities to win the game despite the missed call. One of the most glaring examples came in the seventh inning, as the O's put runners on second and third with one out and couldn't score off Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda, who tagged out Nick Markakis at home to end the inning after the ball got away from catcher Russell Martin.

"I didn't think the ball was that far, but they were being aggressive right there," said Martin, who executed a toss to Kuroda that easily beat the hustling Markakis to the plate. "Hiro got off the mound really quick and gave me a good target, and I just laid it in there for him."

Markakis opened the inning with a single, the O's first leadoff man to reach base since the second, and advanced to second on Adam Jones' deep fly ball. After Matt Wieters took a pitch off his right knee, the pair advanced on a wild pitch to put the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position for Davis. Davis struck out, but Martin dropped the ball, warranting a throw to first, which Teixeira corralled to save a run and record the second out. Markakis tried to tie things up with Wilson Betemit at the plate, hustling toward home after the ball scooted away from Martin and toward the visitors' dugout.

"A lot was playing into it," Markakis said of his reasoning in taking a chance at home. "[Third-base coach DeMarlo Hale] was telling me, 'Be on your toes.' It's not like we had 10 hits, 12 hits; a lot played into the situation. I was just looking to score, tie the game. I thought I had a good jump. The ball didn't go as far as I wanted to. Nine times out of 10, I'm going to try it."

"We had our one opportunity there [with Davis] and couldn't push that run across," added Showalter. "Nicky made a good aggressive play, and they made a heck of a play to get him."

It was the final play for Kuroda, who made sure Chavez's decisive homer stood up. Kuroda -- making his first career start against the Orioles -- worked seven innings of one-run ball, using some stealth defense behind him to pick up his second win of the season. The O's got on the board first with some help from Yankees right fielder Raul Ibanez, who misplayed Wieters' deep fly ball in right field, putting runners on the corners with no outs. Davis' deep sacrifice fly to left scored Jones, but Kuroda got Betemit -- Sunday's hero in Baltimore's 5-2 win over Oakland -- to ground into an inning-ending double play to stop the scoring there.

"There's eight guys on the field; we just managed to hit a lot of balls right at people," Markakis said of an Orioles club that tied a season low in hits -- five -- and runs and was held without an extra-base hit for the second time this season.

"Kuroda threw the ball really well, and [there were] shutdown bullpens on both sides," said Hammel, who allowed five hits and two walks, recording five strikeouts in his fourth quality start in five outings. "It was just going to be a good pitchers' game."

O's reliever Matt Lindstrom followed Hammel with a scoreless seventh, and Jim Johnson -- on for the first time since April 22 -- had a 1-2-3 outing in his first appearance since being hospitalized with food poisoning. The Yankees' one-two punch of Dave Robertson and closer Mariano Rivera countered with two shutout innings, handing New York its sixth win in the last seven games against Baltimore. Comments