- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 27, 2003

NEW YORK — New York Yankees rookie Jorge De Paula was not going to pitch a no-hitter last night. Manager Joe Torre wouldn’t have allowed it.

De Paula took a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his first major league start, but New York was denied its 100th win as Baltimore rallied for a 3-2 victory in 10 innings and a doubleheader split.

Jorge Posada hit his 30th homer to tie Yogi Berra’s club record for a catcher as the Yankees won the first game 11-2. A sweep would have allowed New York to clinch home-field advantage through the postseason, but New York’s bullpen couldn’t hold a 2-0 lead after De Paula left.

“I told [pitching coach] Mel [Stottlemyre] I’ve taken two guys out with no-hitters twice before, and this is going to be the third,” said Torre, who did it before with David Cone and Tommy Boggs. “His health is more important than anything else. You don’t want to push an arm like that to a dangerous length.”

Larry Bigbie broke up De Paula’s bid with a one-out single in the seventh, Jerry Hairston tied the game with a two-run triple in the eighth, and rookie Robert Machado had a one-out single in the 10th off Chris Hammond (3-2) for the go-ahead run.

De Paula received a standing ovation from the crowd and a pat on the head from Torre as he left the game. Bigbie’s bouncer off an outside sinker ticked off the tip of De Paula’s glove and went cleanly into center field to ruin his chance of becoming the first pitcher in more than 50 years to throw a no-hitter in his first career start.

The only player in modern major league history to do it was Bobo Holloman of the St. Louis Browns in 1953.

“I always dreamed of a situation like this, not that I thought I would take a no-hitter into the seventh,” the 24-year-old Dominican right-hander said through a translator.

The Yankees put runners on first and second with none out in the ninth but couldn’t score against Kerry Ligtenberg (4-2). Jorge Julio worked the 10th for his career-high 36th save.

In the first game, Posada thrust his fists in the air as his home run cleared the wall in right-center field, knowing the homer not only tied Berra but also gave him a career-high 101 RBI. Posada had 99 RBI in 2002 and 95 the previous season.

Berra set the homer mark in 1952 and matched it 1956.

“Yogi has been a mentor. He’s been more than a friend,” Posada said. “To be right next to him, it’s kind of neat. I’m more than honored.”

Alfonso Soriano, Juan Rivera and Aaron Boone also homered for the Yankees against Orioles starter Damian Moss (1-5), who hit two batters and gave up three homers in the third inning alone.

The support made things easy for Andy Pettitte (21-8), who tied his career high for victories set in 1996. Pettitte allowed six hits and an unearned run in five innings while winning for the 17th time in his last 20 decisions. It was his fourth straight victory.

“It would have been nice to go a few more innings,” said Pettitte, who threw 89 pitches — 66 strikes. “It was a good start, it felt good, and obviously the guys scored a lot of runs.

Boone also had a two-run double and an RBI single.

Soriano’s homer, his 37th of the season, was the most prodigious of the Yankees’ five home runs in the two games. The ball easily cleared the 399-foot sign in left-center field, landing at the base of the monument park. Soriano is two homers shy of his career high set last season.

Torre went with a second-string lineup in the second game, using old-timers Luis Sojo and Sierra along with youngsters De Paula, Michel Hernandez, Drew Henson, Fernando Seguignol and Erick Almonte. Designated hitter Jason Giambi was the only New York regular in the starting lineup.

Mariano Rivera worked the ninth inning of the nightcap, striking out two. He has not been scored upon in his last 14 appearances.

Notes — The Yankees have 227 home runs, second-most in club history behind the 240 hit by the 1961 team featuring Roger Maris’ 60 and Mickey Mantle’s 54. … The first game was the makeup of last Thursday’s 1-1 game in Baltimore that was called after five innings because of Hurricane Isabel. … Jay Gibbons became the 15th player in Orioles history to reach 100 RBI.

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