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Burnett struggles; Yanks hit five HRs, top Orioles

BALTIMORE - A.J. Burnett pulled himself out of one big slump this season and the Yankees can only hope he's able to do it again.

That process didn't begin last night.

Battered for a season-worst 11 hits, Burnett, winless since July 27, was rescued by the Yankees offense that clubbed five home runs in a 9-6 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.

Burnett, who came in 0-4 with a 6.03 ERA in his last six starts, lasted 51/3 innings and allowed six runs.

"Who's going to be happy with not winning a game in a month?" Burnett said. "So, yeah, it's frustrating. But I work hard, I do what I have to do to get ready and hopefully, the next one will be better."

Burnett said, "I didn't have anything," and manager Joe Girardi said his pitcher's stuff was "flat tonight." But Girardi took a longer view of Burnett's recent struggles, basically saying he hasn't been as bad as the numbers indicate.

"He had a good start in Oakland [Aug. 17] he lost but he had a good start," Girardi said. "Then he didn't have a good start in Boston . . . you can take any time frame and make it look the way you want."

Still, Girardi did allow, "guys get on rolls and right now, he's not on a roll."

Damaso Marte (1-1) got the final two outs of the sixth, and Nick Swisher untied the game in the seventh, hitting a two-run homer off Chris Ray to make it 8-6. Eric Hinske followed with a solo shot.

It was the fourth time this season the Yankees have hit five home runs in a game. Jorge Posada homered twice and Robinson Cano also went deep.

"They don't miss mistakes," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "If you don't locate, they don't miss it. At all."

The Yankees (84-48), in winning their fifth straight, stayed 6½ games ahead of the Red Sox.

It all would have made for a fine evening if not for Burnett, who struggled from the outset.

The first inning started with Brian Roberts lining out to Derek Jeter and Felix Pie following with a homer to left.

Burnett appeared to gesture toward Pie between first and second, though it wasn't clear if the emotional pitcher was just engaging in some verbal self-flagellation. Regardless, Pie, along with Orioles bench coach Dave Jauss, could be seen yelling at Burnett from the dugout.

"That's bush league," Burnett said after being informed of the commotion he said he didn't hear at the time. "I don't know what they thought I said but I obviously was upset with myself for giving up the home run."

With the score tied at 3, Posada gave the Yankees the lead back in the fifth. After mistakenly starting his way back to the dugout after taking a called second strike, Posada drilled David Hernandez's 3-and-2 pitch to left for his 19th homer, a two-run shot, and a 5-3 lead. The dugout was in hysterics and the catcher offered no alibis.

"I thought it was strike three," Posada said with a smile. "I was a little embarrassed."

Burnett had his own concentration lapse in the bottom of the fifth.

Nick Markakis started the inning with a ground smash that Mark Teixeira knocked down behind the bag at first. Teixeira instinctively flipped the ball to the bag, which was unoccupied as Burnett failed to cover. As the ball landed on the grass, Teixeira, on his knees, lifted his arms in a rare sign of frustration.

"I thought it was a foul ball," Burnett said. "But I should have been over there."

Nolan Reimold singled and Luke Scott homered to give the Orioles a 6-5 lead. The Yankees tied it at 6 in the sixth on Rodriguez's two-out, RBI single.

Mariano Rivera allowed a one-out hit in the ninth but still recorded his 38th save and 34th straight save chance.

New York Sports