Jeter sets hits record, but Yankees fall to Orioles

The moment belonged to Derek Jeter. The long, rainy night belonged to the Baltimore Orioles.

Jeter broke the New York Yankees‘ hit record held by Lou Gehrig for more than seven decades, but Baltimore overcame an early deficit for a 10-4 victory Friday night in a game delayed twice by rain.

Jeter’s third-inning single to right field gave him 2,722 hits, one more than Gehrig, whose Hall of Fame career was cut short by illness in 1939.

“It’s still hard to believe for me,” Jeter said. “It really hit home when we got back here after our last road trip.”

The captain added an RBI single in the fourth that put the Yankees up 4-1 before the Orioles rallied against Andy Pettitte and the New York bullpen.

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Jeter’s record-breaking hit was remarkably similar to the one that tied Gehrig on Wednesday night, a sharp grounder inside the first-base line. After this one, Yankees players poured out of the dugout and engulfed Jeter at first base with hugs and pats on the back.

“For those who say today’s game can’t produce legendary players, I have two words: Derek Jeter. Game in and game out he just produces,” Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said in a statement.

Jeter said he spoke to Steinbrenner during the second rain delay.

“It was great to hear from him. I think our relationship has been well-documented throughout the years. We’ve been pretty close since I came up,” Jeter said. “We miss seeing him around here as much as we used to, but it was great to hear his voice and he had a lot of great things to say.”

Jeter spread his arms wide after rounding first base and clapped his hands emphatically as he headed back to the bag. Then, his teammates found him.

“Just capturing the moment,” Alex Rodriguez said. “That’s a lot of hits.”

Rain-drenched fans, many wearing bright ponchos, roared during an ovation that lasted about 3 minutes. Jeter twice waved his helmet to the crowd of 46,771 – just as he did after tying the record. Fans chanted his name and the ball was taken out of play as a souvenir.

“It wasn’t ideal conditions tonight and for the fans to stick around, it really means a lot,” Jeter said. “I felt like they’re just as much a part of this as I am.”

When his opposite-field grounder got past diving first baseman Luke Scott, Jeter’s parents raised their arms in excitement. Joining them in an upstairs box filled with family and friends were his sister and steady girlfriend, actress Minka Kelly.

Jeter said his mother nearly didn’t make it to the game because she was in Tampa, Fla., earlier in the day and her flight was delayed.

Baltimore spoiled some of the fun, though.

Leadoff batter Brian Roberts had three RBIs, including a two-run single off Damaso Marte (1-2) that put the Orioles ahead during a four-run sixth.

Cesar Izturis added two RBIs and Nick Markakis hit a two-run single in the seventh just before play was stopped for 67 minutes.

When the game resumed, Jeter had been pulled along with several other Yankees starters. By the time it ended at 1:28 a.m., there were only a few hundred hardy souls in the stands.

The start was delayed 87 minutes by rain that soaked the warning track with large puddles. Jeter struck out in the first inning against 21-year-old rookie Chris Tillman (2-3), but gave fans the record-breaking moment they came to see his next time up.

Rodriguez hit a three-run homer in the first inning for the Yankees, a shot that sailed into the second deck in left field. Pettitte labored through five innings and left with a 4-3 lead after 103 pitches.

Tillman struck out a career-high eight in five-plus innings. Mark Hendrickson worked three scoreless innings for his first major league save.

NOTES: Orioles CF Felix Pie was batting in the sixth when he came out of the game because of back spasms. He was replaced by pinch-hitter Jeff Fiorentino, who reached on an infield single. Fiorentino stayed in the game to play center. … Baltimore 3B Melvin Mora was hit in the right elbow by Pettitte’s pitch in the fifth, forcing home a run. Mora was pulled in the sixth for pinch-hitter Ty Wigginton, who singled and remained in the game at third base.