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Middle of Yanks' lineup provides power as Sabathia masters O's

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez is quickly finding his comfort zone at the new Yankee Stadium -- it's somewhere way, way out there in the left-center field bleachers.

Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira launched more long home runs, CC Sabathia dominated into the late innings and the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-1 Tuesday night for their seventh win in a row.

"I love this place," Rodriguez said. "There are so many things here you can use to your advantage."

Rodriguez homered for the fourth straight game, all in the Bronx, connecting for a two-run shot in the first inning. Each one of his no-doubters sailed deep to left.

"He's been a huge part of this little run we've been on," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

It was the 558th homer of Rodriguez's career, putting him five behind Reggie Jackson for 11th place on the all-time list -- before the game, A-Rod and Mr. October visited in the clubhouse.

Ahead 2-1 in the seventh, the Yankees broke it open with a seven-run burst. Teixeira highlighted it with his fourth homer in four games. The Yankees last won seven straight in September.

Sabathia (4-3) again dominated the Orioles, allowing three singles in seven innings for his first home win in pinstripes. After Brian Roberts led off the game with a single to left, Sabathia did not permit an outfield hit.

"Just throwing strikes, attacking the zone," Sabathia said.

Sabathia threw a four-hit shutout at Baltimore on May 8, and this time outpitched rookie Brad Bergesen (1-2).

Bergesen changed his jersey before the game from No. 64 to No. 35, visibly transforming from a spring training wannabe to a full-fledged major leaguer. He held the Yankees to three hits in a career-high 6 1/3 innings, and retired 13 consecutive batters after Rodriguez homered on a full count.

"It's all hindsight for me, but I probably should have thrown the slider there," Bergesen said. "Belt-high fastball. I didn't want to walk him, so I decided to throw a belt-high fastball. I was trying to go away and it just got too much of the plate."

Chris Ray relieved Bergesen and gave up Derek Jeter's two-run double and Teixeira's homer.

The Orioles had heard the new Yankee Stadium was a homer haven, and found out why in their first game at the ballpark.

Rodriguez sent a two-out drive into the left-center bleachers for a 2-1 lead. His career best is five straight games with a home run, done three times.

Since coming off the disabled list May 8, Rodriguez has a total of seven hits -- five home runs and two singles.

Rodriguez homered on his first swing when he was activated, starting Sabathia on his string of winning three straight starts. The big lefty struck out seven and walked one.

"When you're winning, there are a lot of good stories to be written," Rodriguez said.

As he did in his shutout at Camden Yards, Sabathia gave up hits to the first two Orioles batters. Baltimore scored this time on an RBI grounder by Aubrey Huff.

Before the game, a Yankees fan behind the Baltimore dugout razzed the Orioles' cleanup hitter.

"Hey Huff, why do you kill us every game?" the man teased. Huff smiled, pointed toward the right-field wall and answered: "Short porch."

Game notes
Rodriguez has 49 home runs against the Orioles, most among active players. ... It was quite a night for 6-year-old Tommy Belsky of Hopewell, N.J. Celebrating one year free of leukemia, he toured the Yankees clubhouse, sat in a front-row seat, was shown on the scoreboard, taught his secret handshake to Nick Swisher, met Jeter and A-Rod and played catch with 2B Robinson Cano. "Pretty good," Cano said. ... Phil Coke became the latest Yankees reliever to shave his head. ... New York relievers Brian Bruney, activated from the disabled list before the game, and Brett Tomko each pitched a perfect inning.