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Montero's 2 HRs power Yanks over Orioles

Jesus Montero smiles in the Yankee dugout after

Jesus Montero smiles in the Yankee dugout after hitting his second home run of the game. (Sept. 5, 2011) Photo Credit: David Pokress

And on the fifth day, he homered.


To the opposite field, no less.

Rookie Jesus Montero, in his fourth start at designated hitter since being called up from the minors Thursday, hit two of the Yankees' four home runs Monday in their 11-10 victory over the Orioles at the Stadium.

"It was an amazing day today,'' said Montero, who accounted for the Yankees' final three runs. "We did a nice job together. It was nice to help the team to win.''

It was the fifth straight win and eighth in nine games for the Yankees, who were outhit 17-12 but increased their lead over Boston to 21/2 games.

The bats of those who have supplied much of the Yankees' power this season went deep -- Robinson Cano hit a grand slam and Mark Teixeira (No. 36) had a solo shot -- along with another bat, Montero's, that the Yankees hope might be able to provide some pop in October.

But first Montero, 21, has to prove himself, something he didn't do in early March, when the backup catcher's job was there for the taking. So far, so good on that front.

"I like the way he's handled this,'' Joe Girardi said. "I think sometimes you put a ton of pressure on yourself when you have an opportunity to get there. Well, now he's here. He knows he's going to get at-bats and we're going to see what this young man can do. But I just think he put so much pressure on himself in spring training. It's tough to succeed that way.''

Montero, 3-for-10 coming in, broke an 8-8 tie with a solo blast to rightfield off Jim Johnson leading off the fifth. The theme from the 1984 movie "The Natural'' accompanied Montero, born in 1989, during his trip around the bases, and the crowd of 45,069 demanded and eventually received a curtain call. His teammates -- led by Jorge Posada, the player who figures to get squeezed out of a postseason roster spot if Montero keeps hitting -- encouraged him to leave the dugout and acknowledge the fans.

"Posada was the one telling me to go out there and say hi to them,'' Montero said.

Again facing Johnson in the seventh, Montero poked a 2-and-2 pitch that was low and away deep to rightfield for a two-run homer that made it 11-8. It brought another curtain-call request, and Montero obliged.

"I'm not even sure the second one he hit was a strike,'' Girardi said. "First home run, it looked like he got a fastball up a little bit. Second one's pretty special.''

Yankees security succeeded in retrieving both home run balls and presented them to Montero, whose second homer proved to be critical.

Boone Logan allowed a run in the eighth that pulled the Orioles to 11-9. In the ninth, Mariano Rivera allowed a one-out single to Mark Reynolds and a two-out RBI single to Ryan Adams that made it 11-10. He hit pinch hitter Nolan Reimold, and after a double steal put runners at second and third, he struck out J.J. Hardy with a cutter away for his 38th save of the season and 597th of his career.

Curtis Granderson's two-run double and Cano's third grand slam in the last 26 days highlighted a six-run second that gave the Yankees an 8-5 lead after the Orioles scored four times against Freddy Garcia in the top of the inning. With a chance to add to the lead, Montero struck out with runners on second and third and one out, but he made up for that later.

Neither starter lasted long; Orioles lefthander Brian Matusz was gone after 11/3 innings and Garcia after 22/3. He allowed nine hits and a season-worst seven runs.

Cano has 24 homers and 105 RBIs -- second on the Yankees to Granderson's 109 and ahead of Teixeira's 101 -- as the second baseman continued his second-half charge in the AL MVP race.

Still, his afternoon, and just about everyone else's, was overshadowed by a rookie's.

"You don't get too giddy on one game and you don't get too down on another game,'' Girardi said. "You want to watch him over a period of time, but we've always said this young man can really swing the bat. We'll just continue to see how he does.''

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