New York sends Ponson to 10th loss

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Lee Mazzilli knows the New York Yankees well
enough to realize they aren't going to lose many games when the
opposition makes three errors, runs recklessly on the bases and
yields a home run on an 0-2 pitch.

Mazzilli watched the Baltimore Orioles do all that Thursday
night, and that's why he sat dejectedly in the manager's office in
the wake of a 5-2 defeat.

Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter homered to back a solid pitching
performance by Javier Vazquez, and the Yankees capitalized on
several miscues in improving to 8-1 against the Orioles this

The victory enabled New York to finish 5-4 on a trip through
Arizona, Los Angeles and Baltimore. The Yankees opened a 5{-game
lead over Boston in the AL East, matching their season high.

"It's good to win this game because you had a winning road
trip," manager Joe Torre said. "It was a tough road trip for us,
but to pick up ground while you're on the road is a pretty good

Rodriguez hit a two-run shot in the third inning to tie the game
following an error by Orioles third baseman David Newhan, and Jeter
gave New York the lead for good in the fifth with a two-run drive
on an 0-2 pitch.

Both homers came off Sidney Ponson (3-10), who lost his seventh
straight start.

Ponson pitched well, but he received no offensive support after
the Orioles scored two runs in the first inning. Larry Bigbie got
picked off first base in the second inning and Brian Roberts was
doubled up trying to tag up from first in the seventh.

That was enough to send Baltimore to its ninth loss in 11 games.

"I'll say this a thousand times, when you make errors and give
good teams that extra chance, stuff like that is going to happen,"
said Mazzilli, who coached first base for the Yankees from 1999-03.

Ponson, winless since May 16, gave up only two earned runs and
seven hits in seven innings, but fell to 3-11 against the Yankees.

"He had good velocity, he mixed his pitches well," Mazzilli
said. "He just left one pitch up, that 0-2 to Jeter."

Ponson refused to talk to reporters, a practice that has become
commonplace during his career-tying seven-game skid.

"He pitched a tremendous game," Orioles catcher Javy Lopez
said. "But the Yankees are a good team. You make one mistake
against them, you pay."

Vazquez (8-5) allowed nine hits in seven innings. The
right-hander is 5-1 in his last seven starts.

"Even though I battled and it seemed like I had guys on base
every inning, my stuff was much better," Vazquez said.

Tom Gordon followed with one scoreless inning and Mariano Rivera
worked a perfect ninth for his 28th save in 29 chances.

Newhan hit a two-run homer for the Orioles, but his error led to
two unearned runs.

The game drew 48,442 fans -- the second sellout of the three-game
series and the Orioles' fourth this year.

Rodriguez got New York started with his 18th homer, two pitches
after Newhan threw wildly to first on a two-out grounder by Jeter.

"One swing for the night I'm happy with," Rodriguez said.
"That's about it."

With the score tied at 2 in the fifth, Jeter connected after
Kenny Lofton reached on an infield hit. It was Jeter's fifth homer
in 55 career at-bats against Ponson.

"I don't know if he has his number," Torre said. "Ponson will
challenge people and he threw the first two fastballs by him. He
tried to do it with the third one and Derek hit the home run."

The Orioles put runners at second and third with two outs in the
sixth before Vazquez retired Jerry Hairston on a foul pop.

New York went up 5-2 in the eighth when Bernie Williams drove in
a run with a blooper to left that turned into a force play at

Game notes
Yankees OF Ruben Sierra was available only as a
pinch-hitter, one night after fouling a ball off his left foot. ...
Vazquez had issued only one leadoff walk in 98 innings before
walking Roberts in the first. ... Orioles 3B Melvin Mora missed his
sixth straight game with a sprained ligament in his left foot.