- The Washington Times - Monday, April 21, 2008

BALTIMORE (AP) — A much-needed win for the New York Yankees was tarnished by the loss of Alex Rodriguez, who can only hope a leg injury won’t force him out of the starting lineup for the first time this season.

Rodriguez had an RBI double and scored before leaving in the sixth inning, and the Yankees ended a three-game losing streak by beating the Baltimore Orioles 7-1 yesterday.

Andy Pettitte pitched seven scoreless innings, Johnny Damon homered and Derek Jeter had a three-run double as the Yankees salvaged the finale of a three-game series.

Rodriguez strained his right quadriceps while running out a grounder. He and Josh Hamilton of Texas are the only AL players to start every game this season, and Rodriguez will have an extra day to recover because the Yankees are off today.

“I’ll get some rest, wake up and see how it feels,” he said. “I’ll treat it all day. I have a heat pad, sleep on that, then ice it and do treatment all day and let it roll.”

Rodriguez reached first base on a fielder’s choice and left after one pitch, thanks in part to some heads-up work by first base coach Tony Pena.

“I felt it a little bit in my swing, then probably four or five steps out of the box, I felt a little twinge,” Rodriguez said. “I give Tony a lot of credit. He knew that if I had to go first to third on a double that perhaps I could have hurt it very seriously.”

It’s the first time since high school Rodriguez had such an injury. Asked how long he expected to be out, the third baseman replied, “I haven’t had an injury like this in a long time, so I’m hoping no time in a perfect world. Let’s see how I wake up.”

Earlier, Rodriguez provided Pettitte with all the offense he needed to win his third straight start.

Pettitte (3-1) was the ideal pitcher for a Yankees team that needed a win to get back to .500. The left-hander retired the first 14 batters and ended up yielding only four hits, improving to 23-6 lifetime against Baltimore, including 14-4 at Camden Yards. He struck out five and walked none.

“I’ve had a lot of bad ones here, that’s for sure,” he said. “I felt good with my command early and they were swinging early and it helped me be able to pitch deep into the game. So that was good.”

Joba Chamberlain gave up a run in the eighth, only the second earned run he has allowed in 301/3 career innings.

The Yankees were 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position during the series before breaking the trend in the fourth inning against Steve Trachsel (1-3). Bobby Abreu walked and stole second before Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui hit successive doubles for a 2-0 lead.

That equaled the total of runs New York scored in the first two games of the series.

“We’re not where we want to be,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi conceded. “This is an offense where we expect to score runs. We didn’t the last two days. We did today, and it was nice to see.”

After slumping Jason Giambi bounced into a double play with one out and the bases loaded in the sixth, Damon connected with a man on in the seventh against Chad Bradford — only the second home run off the submariner in a 138-game span.

“He’s trying to get the ball in and got too much of the middle of the plate and Damon hit it,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

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