Damon's HR lifts Yankees to series win
After Aubrey Huff had his fun at the expense of Joba Chamberlain, the New York Yankees got in the last word against the Baltimore Orioles.
Johnny Damon hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning, the biggest blow in a long-ball attack that carried New York to a 5-3 victory Sunday.
Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano also connected for the Yankees, who received a gritty pitching performance from Chamberlain (2-1) to capture the decisive matchup of the three-game series.
Huff homered off Chamberlain in the first inning to stake Baltimore to a 3-1 lead. Huff emphatically pumped his fist after rounding first base, then did it again with even more gusto after he crossed the plate. It was a rare show of emotion by the 32-year-old, who is usually far more reserved after hitting a home run - especially in the first inning.
Chamberlain has angered opponents for his enthusiastic fist pumps on the mound, and Huff responded with his own version of the celebration.
"He does that stuff all the time as a pitcher, so I was just having a little fun with him out there," Huff said. "That's just part of the game. You get excited in situations like that. I wasn't showing anybody up. I was just having a good time."
Huff insisted that his fist pumps were not to be interpreted as a figurative slap in the face to Chamberlain.
"It's OK if pitchers do it. If batters do it, it's kind of stupid. Everybody kind of frowns on it. So I wanted to have fun with it," Huff said. "I'm kind of a jokester guy; I enjoy messing around and stuff like that. It wasn't a shot at him. He can do what he wants out there."
Said Chamberlain: "I didn't even notice. It's a home run. No reason to be upset; he did what he's supposed to do. I made a bad pitch and he went and got a home run."
Held to one run through six innings by Orioles rookie Koji Uehara, New York rallied in the seventh against the struggling Baltimore bullpen. After Cano hit a solo shot off Jamie Walker, Francisco Cervelli and Derek Jeter got infield hits against Jim Johnson (2-1) before Damon drove a 3-2 pitch into the right-field seats.
"Who would have thought it would come down to a couple of infield hits at the end, the way the ball has been flying around here," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.
It was Damon's ninth homer, the sixth in 10 games, and marked the seventh straight game in which he got at least one extra-base hit. He struck out twice and hit into a double play against Uehara.
"He had me guessing and chasing all day long," Damon said of Uehara. "I wasn't too happy with that."
Uehara gave up six hits, walked none and struck out five. The Japanese rookie has a 1.64 ERA in two starts against the Yankees this season, but only one win to show for it.
Much of the blame lies on the bullpen. The Orioles have outscored the opposition 79-59 in the first three innings this season but have been outscored 57-35 after the sixth inning.
Chamberlain allowed three runs and nine hits in six innings. Although he popped a blood vessel in his right thumb on Saturday, Chamberlain did not appear bothered by the injury.
In his first outing since giving up back-to-back homers for the first time in his career, Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his sixth save.
Alex Rodriguez went 1 for 4 for New York in his third game since returning from the disabled list following hip surgery. He's 1 for 10 since homering in his first at-bat Friday night.
After Teixeira hit a solo home run in the first inning, Huff answered in the bottom half. Two batters later, Luke Scott singled but hurt his left shoulder diving back to the bag on an attempted pickoff throw. He was forced to leave the game and afterward had his arm in a sling.
"I kind of had my weight on my left arm. It hurt to the point where I can't swing a bat," he said.
Scott will receive an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
Cano was 3-for-29 before getting two hits Sunday. ... Orioles pinch hitters are 0-for-13 with eight strikeouts, the only team in the AL without a pinch hit.