Without much help, CC handed first defeat

Without much help, CC handed first defeat

Without much help, CC handed first defeat
BALTIMORE -- The Yankees' offense has earned a reputation for operating on a feast-or-famine basis through the first six weeks of the season, and Wei-Yin Chen made sure that there was more of the latter in store on Tuesday.

New York's bats had trouble getting anything of substance going against the Taiwanese left-hander and CC Sabathia fought through an off night as the Orioles defeated the Yankees, 5-2, to earn a split of a two-game series at Camden Yards.

"It seems like when guys get hot, everyone gets hot," Yankees captain Derek Jeter said. "Sometimes when you scuffle, a lot of people scuffle. You just have to keep things in perspective. Pitchers on the other teams have jobs to do, too."

And though the Yankees have tired of tipping their caps, the 26-year-old Chen did his well. Chen (4-0) enjoyed some success against the Yankees in his first Major League start, on April 10, and was able to improve upon that, blanking New York through the first six innings.

Nick Swisher chopped an inning-ending double-play grounder against Chen in the third frame to begin a string of 10 straight batters retired by the lefty, who posted victories in back-to-back starts for the first time in his big league career.

"He's got his feet on the ground a little bit; he's comfortable," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Chen. "Obviously, he's pitching as well as any of our starters, and very early in the season, he's doing quite well for us. He seems very poised."

Paced by J.J. Hardy's two RBIs, the Orioles collected some good swings off Sabathia (5-1). The ace came to the Inner Harbor having won his last five starts, pitching into the eighth inning in all of those outings.

That wasn't the case on Tuesday, as Sabathia burned through 103 pitches in six innings, serving up four runs and tying a season high with eight hits permitted. Sabathia walked four and struck out six.

"I thought he didn't have his good sinker," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought that was the biggest deal today. That's a big pitch for him; it gets him a lot of ground balls and keeps the ball off the barrel of the bat. He just didn't have it tonight."

Adam Jones put Baltimore on the board with a solo home run, his 11th, in the second inning. Hardy knocked in a run with a double-play grounder in the third, added a run-scoring double in the fifth and then connected for a bases-loaded infield single in the sixth to increase the Orioles' advantage.

"The two-seamer was a little off," Sabathia said. "I feel like I had a good one early, but it kind of went away from me. The fastball command and the four walks killed me.

"It's just not making the pitches. Normally, in the last couple of starts, I've been making pitches when I need to. [My] fastball command wasn't there."

Curtis Granderson's team-leading 13th home run, a two-run blast off Chen in the seventh inning that a fan snagged above a leaping Xavier Avery in left field, accounted for New York's production.

Mixing his pitches well, Chen permitted four hits in seven innings, walking two and striking out six.

"It all started with Chen shutting down that ridiculous lineup," Jones said. "Someone tweeted at me yesterday, 'That's a Confederate Army of home run hitters.'"

Jim Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth for his 12th save as the Yankees finished just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

"We're a club that hits the ball out of the ballpark, for the most part," Girardi said. "We have guys who hit the ball in the gap, and we haven't seemed to do that on a consistent basis with runners in scoring position."

Freddy Garcia allowed a run in a long-relief appearance, as Jones slapped a seventh-inning single and stole second on a call that Girardi argued vehemently with second-base umpire Adrian Johnson.

"From where I was, I thought he was clearly out," Girardi said.

Jeter, who slapped the tag on Jones, had to be more guarded with his analysis.

"[Johnson] said he was safe; I thought he was out," Jeter said. "That's it. Really, I can't. It's up to him."

After a groundout, Jones scored on a Chris Stewart passed ball -- one of two permitted by the backup catcher in a performance that Stewart called "inexcusable."

New York threatened in the eighth, as Pedro Strop walked the first two batters he faced, but Swisher hit into a fielder's-choice grounder and Robinson Cano hit back to the mound to start a double play as the Yankees were turned aside.

"When you get the opportunities, you've got to take advantage of them," Girardi said. "We were able to win last night and weren't real good in those situations, and we weren't good again tonight. That'll change."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.