NEW YORK | CC Sabathia had no reason to expect his game plan, the one that has been nearly perfect against Baltimore throughout his career, would fail him as he tried for his first 20-win season.
The newly pesky Orioles had other ideas.
Adam Jones capped a three-run first inning with a two-run single and Jake Arrieta made the lead stand up, lifting Baltimore to a 6-2 victory over the New York Yankees on Tuesday night.
"They kind of took my aggressiveness away," Sabathia said. "I'm trying to be agressive in the strike zone and they were swinging early. They put some good swings on some balls."
Buoyed by five early runs, Arrieta worked into the seventh inning to earn his second win in 10 starts, helping Baltimore clinch its second straight series win against the top two teams in the AL East. The Orioles took two of three games from Tampa Bay last weekend. Winners of four straight, they can complete their first three-game sweep in the Bronx in 24 years on Wednesday.
Last-place Baltimore is 21-13 under Buck Showalter, who managed the Yankees from 1992-95.
Sabathia (19-6) came in 4-0 this season and 13-1 overall against the Orioles, but the big lefty was off his form from the start in the Yankees' third straight loss.
"I don't think about the past," Showalter said. "We have to worry about now."
Sabathia gave up four hits, three runs and a walk before getting an out, then allowed a long two-run homer to Nolan Reimold with two outs in the third. The loss ended Sabathia's streak of 21 starts at Yankee Stadium without a defeat. He had been 16-0 since early July 2009.
Of the Orioles' nine hits against Sabathia, three came on the first pitch of the at-bat, three came on the second pitch and three on the third. Sabathia attempted to adjust but the Orioles stayed right with him.
"I tried to mix it up early in the count, but wasn't able to get any secondary pitches over for strikes," Sabathia said.
Brian Roberts led off with a single and advanced on a passed ball by Jorge Posada. Felix Pie walked and Nick Markakis singled to load the bases before Ty Wigginton made it 1-0 with a single to center field.
Jones followed with his single to left, and Posada couldn't handle Brett Gardner's perfect one-hop throw, allowing Markakis to safely touch home plate.
"When he makes a mistake, you've got to jump on it," Reimold said of Sabathia. "He doesn't make too many."
The Yankees appeared ready to rally for their ace in the bottom half, getting singles from three of the first four batters. Robinson Cano, batting fourth with Alex Rodriguez out of the staring lineup as a precaution after playing two straight games in his return from the disabled list, got his 95th RBI to make it 3-1.
But Nick Swisher, running gingerly on a sore knee, grounded into a double play. Arrieta (5-6) got Posada to ground into a double play in the second to wipe out Lance Berkman's leadoff single.
"They were huge," Arrieta said of the double plays.
Arrieta didn't give up a hit until the fifth, when Berkman led off with another single. The designated hitter scored, stumbling around third and making a nifty sideways lunge for home plate on Posada's double off the wall to make it 5-2.
Markakis upped the lead to 6-2 with an RBI single after Curtis Granderson failed to catch Josh Bell's long drive to center for a two-base error opening the seventh. Markakis' one-out hit ended Sabathia's night.
Sabathia gave up nine hits and a season high-tying six runs — five earned — in 6 1-3 innings. He walked one and struck out five in having his six-start winning streak snapped.
Sabathia sat in the dugout, shaking his head disappointedly while watching Kerry Wood finish the seventh.
The Orioles nearly gave back the runs in a sloppy seventh. Berkman doubled leading off for his third hit and Posada walked. Granderson hit a shallow popup that Jones slowed up on in shallow center, forcing shortstop Robert Andino to make a lunging attempt to catch it. The ball hit off his glove, but Jones forced Posada at second.
Pinch-hitting against reliever Matt Albers, Rodriguez hit a scorching liner at Bell, who knocked it down at third base. Bell recovered to force Granderson.
"Just some bad luck on our part," manager Joe Girardi said of the seventh inning.
Arrieta, whose first career win came against New York on June 10, gave up eight hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings.
NOTES: The Orioles recalled LHPs Troy Patton from Triple-A Norfolk and Pedro Viola from Double-A Bowie. ... The Yankees were last swept by the Orioles in New York from June 6-8, 1986. ... Rodriguez is 0 for 11 as a pinch-hitter in his career.
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