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BAL@NYY: Arrieta K's nine, shuts out Yanks over eight

NEW YORK -- Who are these guys?

A night removed from making history -- in handing manager Buck Showalter his 1,000th career win -- a plucky Orioles team continued to roll on Wednesday, silencing the Yankees, 5-0, for a series victory that keeps the 2012 club surprising the baseball world.

Coming off their best homestand since August 2010, Baltimore has won five of its last six series, improving to seven games over .500 for the first time since July 19, 2005.

"We've got a great team," said starter Jake Arrieta, who went a career-high eight scoreless innings in a dominant outing in which no Yankees batter got to second base. "We all know that in order to get people on board, we've got to show it. We plan on playing the baseball we've been playing, especially against these guys."

After dropping Monday's series opener -- their fourth in as many games against New York -- the Orioles proved their mettle, responding with back-to-back wins that gave credence to starter Jason Hammel's warning that this year's club wasn't "going to be taken lightly" anymore.

Instead, these Orioles -- winners of eight of 10 games and six of eight series overall -- continue to be led by a surprisingly strong starting pitching staff, with Arrieta's stellar outing preceded by quality starts from Hammel and lefty Brian Matusz. The trio's efforts marked the first time the Orioles have held New York to two runs or fewer in three consecutive games in the Bronx since 1978. In the series, they had a combined 1.33 ERA over 20 1/3 innings, allowing 16 hits, three earned runs, striking out 18 and walking three.

"We've been confident all year," said Matt Wieters who called a masterful game behind the plate and went 3-for-4, including his team-leading seventh home run and an RBI double. "We trust our ability, and we believe in the guys we have in that clubhouse."

Never short on confidence, Arrieta got into a solid rhythm, throwing his breaking ball for strikes early and often and turning in his best start of the season as a result. Coming off a pair of losses, the 26-year-old -- who lamented that his biggest problem was not putting guys away -- was aggressive, tying a career high with nine strikeouts and not issuing a walk for the first time in six games.

"Just outstanding location and sink," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Arrieta, who allowed five hits in the 111-pitch effort. "Sometimes pitchers are going to make you look bad."

Arrieta kept a struggling Yankees squad in fits, paving the way for the Orioles' first shutout in the Bronx since Aug. 14, 2007, at the old Yankee Stadium. The right-hander never wavered or got into trouble, cruising to his third career victory in seven starts against New York.

"We got deep in all three games with our starters, and that gives you a chance," Showalter said. "I know it's getting repetitive, but that's the key to all teams.

"Confidence is how well you pitch. That's the momentum. That's why it's human beings. It's always the case. Are you going to just bleed or what are you going to do? And our guys, I think they understand the reality of each day bringing a different challenge."

But it wasn't all pitching that granted the Orioles their 16th win of the season -- and first series "W" in New York since Sept. 6-8, 2010 -- as an offense led by Wieters and Nick Markakis tagged Yankees starter Ivan Nova for five runs over 6 1/3 innings.

Wieters, who entered the game leading all Major League catchers in home runs, struck again with a solo homer in the fourth inning. His shot broke a scoreless tie and continued Wieters' hot streak off Nova. He went 2-for-3 off the right-hander, including his RBI double, and reached three times to bring his career average to .500 (7-for-14) with three homers and seven RBIs.

"He continues to impress me," Arrieta said of Wieters, who didn't hit his seventh homer until June last year. "I've played with him since 2007, and he gets better and better every year -- every day, it seems like. And he's really, really comfortable now in the big leagues. Not that he shouldn't be. He's a tremendous player and very smart and knowledgeable, not only [with] what he does on the field, but his preparation is better than almost anybody I've ever seen. The talent that he has combined with his work ethic, his ability is off the charts."

Markakis also went deep, connecting for his first homer since April 7 as part of a three-run seventh inning. In that frame, Wieters' double scored Adam Jones -- who was hit by a pitch on the right elbow -- and Nick Johnson drove in another run with his second hit of the night, the latter off Clay Rapada. Ninth batter Robert Andino continued a fine season at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI to raise his average to .342.

"It's that old thing, do you change something that's working well?" Showalter said of moving the hot-hitting Andino up. "Especially when we get Nolan [Reimold] back. And [Endy] Chavez has hit the ball on the button two nights in a row and has nothing to show for it. I like having that order behind him. And like I said before, the ninth spot in the American League is an important spot. It's kind of like the eighth spot in the National League."

The Orioles, it seems, are clicking on all cylinders, getting contributions from up and down the lineup, the starting staff and a bullpen that didn't allow a run in 5 2/3 innings over the three-game set.

"It's a tough place to come in and win a series," Wieters said. "But to be able to get two out of three is nice momentum going into Boston [on Friday]."

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