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BAL@NYY: Tanaka fans 10 in first Yankee Stadium start

NEW YORK -- The game was supposed to showcase Masahiro Tanaka, the Yankees' prized new starter pitching in front of his new fans in the Bronx for the first time, but even his dazzling debut and major offensive support from fellow newcomer Carlos Beltran weren't enough, as the Orioles prevailed, 5-4, following a four-hit, two-run ninth-inning surge.

Hailed by opposing manager Buck Showalter as "the best acquisition of the offseason" before the game, Tanaka showed those in attendance why the franchise made such a financial investment in him. The $155 million man went seven innings, yielding three runs on seven hits and one walk while striking out 10. Orioles hitters whiffed at 22 of his 101 offerings, with half the misses induced by his splitter.

Beltran, meanwhile, went 3-for-3 with a single, double and homer, and two runs scored, and was issued an intentional walk in the eighth inning with the potential go-ahead run on third base.

Brian Matusz got the win in relief for Baltimore, and Tommy Hunter survived a hairy ninth inning for the save after allowing the first two runners to reach and one to score. Starter Miguel Gonzalez logged a quality start with a three-run, six-inning outing.

New York's interim closer, Shawn Kelley, took the loss after entering in the ninth with the score tied at 3. A leadoff double by Baltimore's Ryan Flaherty preceded a series of soft singles by Jonathan Schoop, Nick Markakis and Delmon Young and a sacrifice fly from Chris Davis for the game-winning rally. All four hits came off Kelley's slider, and three came with two strikes.

"I felt like I made some good pitches early in counts to get ahead of guys," Kelley said, "and then [against] a couple of guys with two strikes, I got the ball down, but I would have liked it to have been in the dirt. I felt like they did a pretty good job getting the barrel to some good pitches."

Despite the no-decision, Tanaka was the story of the night. He featured a fastball that he ran up to 93 mph to go along with a devastating swing-and-miss splitter and at least one slider he wishes he could have back.

"Throughout the game, I think, I was able to battle," Tanaka said through an interpreter, "but with two runners on and [giving] a home run to the ninth batter, that I can't do."

Tanaka worked in and out of trouble, stranding five runners -- including three in scoring position -- but the only damage imprinted on the scoreboard came in the second inning, when Schoop crushed a 1-0 slider to the upper deck in left field for a three-run blast.

The start followed a similar progression as his Major League debut in Toronto on Friday, when he also allowed three runs in the first two innings before holding his opponent scoreless the next five.

"I thought he battled out of some tough jams today," manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought he made some pitches when had to. Again, it seemed like he got better as the night went on."

Beltran retaliated with his own second-deck shot in the second inning, crushing an 0-1 changeup to right field for a solo homer. Kelly Johnson added a solo homer three batters later to cut Baltimore's lead to one run.

Beltran's 359th career blast was his first as a Yankee and pushed him past Yogi Berra on the all-time list.

In the fourth inning, Beltran lined a double into the right-field corner before moving up to third base on Brian McCann's deep flyout. Beltran scored on Alfonso Soriano's grounder to shortstop, even though the Orioles' infield was partially drawn in.

Tanaka was well supported defensively, especially in the sixth inning. Center fielder Brett Gardner ranged deep to snare a deep fly hit by Nelson Cruz, Soriano made a diving catch on a sinking liner down the left-field line off the bat of Steve Lombardozzi and Brian Roberts scooped a short hop smacked by Flaherty and made the play to first for a one-two-three innings of defensive highlights.

Tanaka barely needed any help in the seventh, as he struck out two and fielded a comebacker for the other out. He walked only one, but it was enough to snap the rotation's five-start streak -- that he started -- without issuing any free passes at all. Tanaka exited having thrown 101 pitches, 71 for strikes. In Japan he was used to throwing more pitches per outing but also having more days of rest to recover.

"I probably would have been able to [pitch more]," he said, "but I understand that there's only four days in between [starts] and also that it's going to be a long season, so I'm just basically going with what the team is telling me to do."

After striking out eight last week, Tanaka is now the second Yankee in franchise history with at least eight whiffs in each of his first two big league starts, joining Allen Russell, who did so in 1915.

As for Beltran, he entered the game just 5-for-27 but broke out against Baltimore. The 17-year veteran with more than 2,200 hits was just a triple shy of the cycle and is hopeful that he regained his timing in the batter's box.

"You always need a good game to gain a little bit of confidence at the plate," Beltran said. "It's not that I don't have confidence, it's just that I felt like I was a little bit in between [on my timing]. I was a little bit out front on the breaking pitches and a little behind on the fastball. Today I was aggressive, and I was swinging at strikes."

The Yankees threatened to break the tie in the eighth inning. Gardner led off with a double but was ultimately stranded on third. Derek Jeter laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Gardner within 90 feet of the plate with only one out, but Jacoby Ellsbury hit a foul pop to the third baseman and, after Beltran's intentional walk, McCann flied out to center. Comments