Series: Game 3 of 4

Baltimore leads 2-1 (as of 8/24)

Game 1: Friday, August 22
NY Yankees3
Game 2: Saturday, August 23
NY Yankees2
Game 3: Sunday, August 24
NY Yankees7
Game 4: Monday, August 25
NY Yankees5

Orioles 0

(61-68, 28-36 away)

Yankees 7

(79-49, 37-26 home)

    1:05 PM ET, August 24, 2003

    Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

    123456789 R H E
    BAL 000000000 0 4 1
    NYY 32200000 - 7 8 1

    W: J. Contreras (4-1)

    L: E. DuBose (1-4)

    Coming off DL, Yanks righty K's five

    NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Yankees have found their fifth starter, although Jose Contreras looked more like an ace.

    Contreras made a rousing return from the disabled list, shutting down the Baltimore Orioles on three hits over seven innings in New York's 7-0 win Sunday.

    "I'm happy because I was able to help the team achieve victory and also demonstrate what kind of pitcher I am," Contreras said through a translator. "I was able to pitch comfortably with the great lead that my teammates gave me."

    Jorge Posada hit a three-run homer in the first and Derek Jeter added a two-run single for the Yankees, who cruised to an easy win after dropping the first two of a four-game series.

    Out since June 7 with a strained right shoulder, Contreras replaced a struggling Jeff Weaver in the starting rotation and picked up right where he left off before he was hurt.

    After struggling as a reliever early this season, Contreras moved into the rotation in late May with impressive results. He won twice in two starts, at Detroit and Cincinnati, and now is 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA as a big league starter -- with 17 strikeouts in 21 innings.

    "When you get around him he just has a feel and a lot more self confidence than he had before," Yankees pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said.

    "Certainly this game should give him a big, emotional lift as far as what he can do for us. You have to be excited about what this guy can do not just down the stretch in the regular season but maybe more than that. I don't think this is a guy that's going to melt under pressure."

    Contreras, who signed a $27 million, three-year contract with the Yankees after defecting from Cuba last year, walked one and struck out five. The performance left Weaver's role in limbo and little doubt about who manager Joe Torre will turn to down the stretch in addition to starters Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte and David Wells.

    In fact, Weaver was warming up in the bullpen in the eighth.

    "We're going to make some decisions here in the next few days, now that we're getting close to Sept. 1," Torre said.

    Making his first start at Yankee Stadium, Contreras (4-1) struck out four of his first seven batters. He got some defensive help in the first inning from right fielder Juan Rivera, who made an outstanding throw to get Luis Matos at the plate on Jeff Conine's two-out single.

    The right-hander kept the Orioles reaching for pitches down in the strike zone and made Jay Gibbons look bad in the seventh, striking him out with an off-speed pitch.

    "He was locating his fastball and he had a pretty good split going," Gibbons said. "The first time around is kind of tough when you haven't seen a guy. But regardless, he had pretty good stuff."

    Contreras set down his last nine batters. Antonio Osuna worked a perfect eighth, and Chris Hammond finished the four-hitter for New York's 10th shutout of the season.

    Contreras said he would call his father and the rest of his family in Cuba to tell them about his big outing.

    "He's going to be very happy. They'll all be very happy," he said.

    Baltimore, which had won four straight following a season-high eight-game losing streak, has been blanked nine times this year.

    Alfonso Soriano led off the first inning with a double, and Jason Giambi was hit by a pitch one out later. With two outs, Posada connected off rookie Eric DuBose (1-4) for his 24th homer and second in two days.

    Jeter looped a two-run single to right with two outs in the second, making it 5-0. Bernie Williams and Posada singled to start the third, and Aaron Boone and Rivera added RBI grounders.

    Making his fourth big league start, DuBose gave up seven runs -- six earned -- and six hits in just 2 1-3 innings.

    "I was out there just scuffling from the very beginning," DuBose said. "When you face the Yankees you've got to be on top of your game. I use it as a learning experience."

    Game notes

    Contreras struck out 15 and allowed two hits in seven shutout innings in his last minor league rehabilitation outing Aug. 16 for Class A Staten Island. ... Boone made several nice plays at third base. ... Jeter made his 12th error of the season in the first inning. ... Contreras was charged with a walk in the third inning when he put his hand to his mouth on the mound for ball four to Brian Roberts. ... Posada has 24 hits in his last 53 at-bats (.453). ... RHP Rick Bauer threw 3 2-3 hitless innings for Baltimore in relief of DuBose, striking out five.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press