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Yankees 3, Orioles 7: Bullpen turns a lead into a loss

Andy Pettitte was pitching well and the Yankees were winning. Until the seventh inning.

Rich Schultz

Heading into the top of the seventh, the game was going pretty well for the Yankees.  Their offense stranded some runners but had opened up a 3-0 lead.  Andy Pettitte had pitched six scoreless innings to continue his recent turnaround.  By the time the top of the seventh was over, the Orioles had a 7-3 lead and the Yankees were in a deficit they would not overcome.

The game started in a similar way to yesterday's game.  Pettitte came out with a easy top of the first and Brett Gardner led off the bottom half with a double.  And like yesterday's game, Gardner moved to third when Derek Jeter grounded out.  A Robinson Cano strikeout was followed by walks to both Alfonso Soriano and Alex Rodriguez.  That loaded the bases for Vernon Wells.  Unlike yesterday's game, there was no first inning run as Wells watched strike three go by for the third out.

The Yankees did get on the board two innings later.  Pettitte got into and out of a jam in the top of the third, and Gardner led off the bottom half with yet another double.  After Jeter struck out, Gardner was able to move up a base on a Cano ground out.  This time the Yankees were able to get Gardner home from third.  Soriano singled to make it 1-0 Yankees.  Rodriguez couldn't keep it going, but after three innings the Yankees had a lead.

An inning later, the offense added a couple more runs.  With one out in the fourth, Mark Reynolds drew a walk.  This was a sign of what was to come later in the inning.  Eduardo Nunez was up next and he doubled down the right field line.  With runners on second and third, Wei-Yin Chen managed to walk Chris Stewart (Chris Stewart!) on four pitches.  That brought Gardner to the plate again.  Chen then also walked Gardner on four pitches, which brought home Reynolds.  Chen finally found the strike zone again on the first pitch to Jeter.  But that at bat would also end in a run, as Jeter hit a sacrifice fly which scored Nunez.  Chen got out of the inning by striking out Cano, but the Yankee lead was up to 3-0.

Pettitte had thrown six strong innings, but all that went down the drain when he came back out for the seventh.  Michael Morse and Danny Valencia led off the inning with back to back singles.  After those two hits, Girardi opted to go to the bullpen.  Pettitte had gone six innings, allowing seven hits, and at the time, no runs.  But with the two runners on base credited to him, the no runs part was soon to change.

Shawn Kelley was brought into the game for Pettitte.  Matt Wieters came up next and he too singled.  That scored a run, making it 3-1.  And the lead would be totally gone after the next at bat.  J.J. Hardy hit a home run that hit the top of the wall.  That gave the Orioles a 4-3 lead.  With still no outs, Girardi went back to the bullpen and brought in Boone Logan.  And after Brian Roberts reached on a bunt single and Nick Markakis walked, Logan would also be pulled without recording an out.

Despite it being a one-run game, Joba Chamberlain was brought in for Logan.  After somehow getting the first out of the inning, Joba served up a three-run home run to Adam Jones which was crushed to straight-away center.  What was a 3-0 Yankees lead had now turned into a 7-3 deficit.  After giving up a home run, Joba then struck out Chris Davis, because of course he did.  Morse grounded out to end the inning, but the Yankees' offense now had a big task on their hands.

It was a task they couldn't accomplish.  The Orioles' bullpen shut the Yankees down over the next three innings and pulled out a 7-3 win to avoid the sweep.

The Yankees' next opponents are the White Sox, who come in for a three-game set in the Bronx starting tomorrow.  Phil Hughes and Jose Quintana are the starters and first pitch is at 1:05 eastern.

Box score. Graph thingy.