BALTIMORE - CC Sabathia wasn't great but wasn't awful, the kind of OK performance that on most nights the Yankees are happy to take from their former ace. But not on nights like this one, when they faced a pitcher with the kind of stuff Miguel Gonzalez was throwing.
The Orioles righthander dominated the Yankees for seven innings, striking out a career-high 10 as the Bombers fell, 4-3, in front of 19,283 on a cool, wet night at Camden Yards.
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Gonzalez, 30, allowed one run, four hits and a walk in seven innings to go along with the strikeouts.
"He didn't make any mistakes,'' said Mark Teixeira, who went 1-for-4 with an RBI. "He's got five pitches. Not many guys have five pitches, and when he was missing he was missing out of the zone. You have to give him credit.''
Sabathia allowed four earned runs for a second straight start in falling to 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA. The 34-year-old lefthander allowed seven hits in seven innings. Sabathia walked one, with his strikeout and walk totals -- 15 and one in two starts -- a reason to be encouraged.
"I thought it was good again,'' Joe Girardi said. "I like the way he's throwing . . . I think his luck's going to change. I'm going to take my chances if he's throwing the ball the way he's throwing, that the results are going to be better.''
Sabathia for the most part was pleased, although he kicked himself over a leadoff triple by Caleb Joseph in the seventh that helped the Orioles take a 4-1 lead. It was a ball in the right-center gap that centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury missed by a half-step.
"I knew it would be close,'' Ellsbury said of whether he thought he had a chance at it off the bat.
Said Sabathia: "I feel pretty good. I'm commanding the ball pretty good, I just need to tighten up a few things, especially late in the game. Giving up that triple to lead off the inning made the difference in the game.''
Sabathia allowed a solo homer in the first inning to the scorching Adam Jones, who is 11-for-17 with four homers and nine RBIs in his last five games.
"He's one of the best hitters in the game,'' Sabathia said. "I thought we pitched him a little better after that but he's hot, and there's nothing you can really do.''
Trailing 4-1 in the eighth, the Yankees (3-5) scored twice, with one of the runs a gift. Kevin Gausman replaced Gonzalez, who had thrown 108 pitches, to start the inning, and Didi Gregorius greeted him with a bloop single to left. Ellsbury flied out and Chase Headley singled to right, putting runners at the corners.
The struggling Carlos Beltran, who did double in the first inning, got Gregorius in with a 4-3 groundout. Teixeira lofted a fly to left, where Alejandro De Aza tracked it down near the track but dropped the ball, allowing Headley to score to make it 4-3.
Lefty Zach Britton got Brian McCann to ground into the overshift to the right side to end the inning. Britton pitched a scoreless ninth, getting pinch hitter Alex Rodriguez to ground to short for the final out.
The Yankees, after offensive outbursts of 14 runs Sunday and six runs Monday, went 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. But Gonzalez had plenty to do with that.
"He wasn't in the middle of the plate tonight, he was not missing his spots,'' Girardi said. "And that's why we struggled against him.''