- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 20, 2008

BALTIMORE (AP) — Ian Kennedy struggled to find the strike zone, and it cost the New York Yankees.

Brian Burres started and pitched 52/3 innings for the Baltimore Orioles in a 6-0 win last night while Kennedy couldn’t get past the third inning.

“It’s as simple as throwing strikes,” New York manager Joe Girardi said.

Kennedy (0-2) was behind in the count against 13 of the 17 batters he faced. He gave up four runs and five hits with five walks to raise his ERA to 9.64 as New York lost its third straight.

“You can’t win the way he is pitching. He got a lot of walks, and is behind a lot of hitters. He had a lot of three-ball counts,” Girardi said.

Burres (2-1) wasn’t sharp either, allowing five runs and walking four, but pitched out of jams in the first and second innings and left in the sixth with a 4-0 lead. Jim Johnson went the rest of the way, allowing the Yankees one hit in completing the shutout.

“I really tip my hat to Burres,” Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. “He really used his curveball, dropped down to left-handers and pitched aggressively. He stayed the course tonight and attacked and that helped to set the tone for the rest of the game.”

It was the third straight win for the Orioles (11-7), who remained half a game behind Boston in the American League East. It was the first major league save for Johnson, who has not allowed a run over four appearances and nine innings.

“He has been very special to our team,” Trembley said. “He has very good poise.”

Johnson said he is pitching with more confidence and maturing in his delivery.

The Orioles also did the job at the plate. Ramon Hernandez and Aubrey Huff each drove in two runs and Kevin Millar had two hits and homered. Brandon Fahey added two hits.

“I think we’re playing good team baseball and everybody’s contributing and that’s a good thing,” Millar said. He added he was also seeing good things from Johnson.

“What J.J. is doing is throwing strikes,” Millar said. “And that’s a good thing.”

Joba Chamberlain pitched a scoreless eighth inning for New York. Chamberlain returned to the team earlier in the day after missing five games to attend to his sick father in Nebraska. Chamberlain said his father was doing much better and he was glad to be back with the team.

“What a day. I was at the hospital this morning, took a flight here, got on my uniform and went out to get warmed up,” Chamberlain said. “It was nice to be back with the team.”

In the first inning, Derek Jeter hit a two-out triple just past the glove of diving right fielder Nick Markakis. Alex Rodriguez then reached on a squibber in front of the plate, with Jeter holding at third. Burres got out of the inning when Jorge Posada grounded to shortstop for a forceout.

The Yankees also had runners at first and second with one out in the second, but Jose Molina hit into a double play.

Baltimore took a 1-0 lead in the second on back-to-back doubles by Hernandez and Fahey.

Millar put the Orioles up 2-0 with his third home run of the season, a 390-foot solo shot to left. Luke Scott and Huff walked and Hernandez’s two-out double scored both runners to make it 4-0.

The Orioles added two more runs in the seventh on a one-out double by Huff that scored Markakis and Millar. Brian Roberts almost added to the lead, but his bases-loaded liner was stopped on a diving stab by Posada, who started at first base. It was just his 19th appearance there in 1,445 games.

“They are winning because they are playing fundamental baseball,” Girardi said. “Their pitchers are throwing strikes and they are getting the hits when they need them.”

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