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Phil Hughes knocked out in fourth as Orioles beat Yankees, 5-3

Phil Hughes of the Yankees reacts as he

Phil Hughes of the Yankees reacts as he leaves the game in the fourth inning against the Baltimore Orioles in a MLB game at Yankee Stadium. (April 13, 2013) Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Phil Hughes showed up in Tampa in early February with several goals for the season.

Among them: start better.

Meaning April.

"I feel like sometimes I got off to a slow start, and this offseason I really focused on being ready to come into spring so I could avoid that,'' Hughes said during spring training.

So far he's 2-for-2, and not in a good way.

Hughes, who missed the entire exhibition season with a back injury, had another awful April start Saturday, allowing three homers and failing to get an out in the fourth inning in a 5-3 loss to the Orioles at the Stadium. It ended the Yankees' winning streak at four games.

"Can't remember the last time I was as bad as that,'' said Hughes, who allowed 35 homers in 2012, tied for second-most in the majors.

Hughes (0-2, 10.29) was booed off the mound after pitching to two batters in the fourth, having allowed five runs and nine hits. He entered the game 4-10 with a 7.03 ERA in 19 career starts in April, including 1-3, 7.88 in 2012.

"Fastball command wasn't there,'' Francisco Cervelli said.

David Phelps helped keep the Yankees in the game, replacing Hughes with one on and none out in the fourth. He allowed one hit in four innings, walking none and striking out six.

Phelps, who pitched well as a starter and reliever in 2012, lowered his ERA to 3.38, but Girardi said no rotation changes are in the works. Hughes, he said, will make his next scheduled start, as will Ivan Nova.

"I'm not really thinking of making any changes,'' Girardi said.

Travis Hafner and Vernon Wells homered for the Yankees (5-5). Wells, Robinson Cano (who played shortstop in the ninth inning), Cervelli (who played second in the ninth) and Lyle Overbay had two hits each.

Ryan Flaherty, Nick Markakis and Nolan Reimold homered for the Orioles (6-5), a continuation of a season-long issue that plagued Hughes in 2012.

"He's going to give up some home runs. That's just kind of the way he pitches,'' Girardi said. "He's not a sinkerballer. This is somewhat of a home run hitter's park, too.''

Hughes agreed, though he's not content to be torched by the home run so often.

"I never like to accept that, but I'm not a guy that lives down in the zone, is a sinkerball guy,'' Hughes said. "I rely on a fastball that rides up in the zone sometimes and I have to just make sure I locate it. When I don't locate it, the ball tends to go in the air instead of the ground.''

And they can go a long way.

With one out in the second, Flaherty, 1-for-18 to that point, hit his first homer of the season for a 2-0 lead.

After the Yankees tied it in the second on Hafner's home run and Overbay's two-out RBI single, Hughes gave the two runs back in the third. Markakis led off with his second home run of the season to make it 3-2. Adam Jones' single and Chris Davis' double put runners at second and third, and J.J. Hardy's one-out grounder to short made it 4-2.

"Just couldn't locate a fastball or any off-speed pitch, for that matter,'' Hughes said. "Any time I did have to come in for a strike, it was over the middle of the plate and it got hammered somewhere.''

Reimold's solo homer to lead off the fourth made it 5-2, and Hughes' day was done after Nate McLouth's bloop double to center. Hughes heard it from the crowd as he left the mound.

"I'm used to it, fortunately,'' he said of the booing. "It's something you deal with when you're not playing well.''

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