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Yankees regain stroke

Bats come around with four homers

BALTIMORE -- After watching the New York Yankees muster only one hit Saturday in their second shutout loss of the season, manager Joe Torre was almost certain that the poor offensive showing was merely an aberration.

It didn't take long for the Yankees to prove him right.

Derek Jeter hit the first of four solo homers against Rodrigo Lopez, and New York beat the Orioles, 6-1, yesterday behind an efficient pitching performance by Jaret Wright.

Jason Giambi hit his 32d home run, matching his total from last year, and finished 3 for 3 with a walk and two RBIs. Johnny Damon and Melky Cabrera also connected for the Yankees, who took two of three from Baltimore and are 11-1-1 in their last 13 series.

``I knew [Saturday] wasn't really going to have anything to do with today. We've been pretty good at bouncing back," Torre said. ``We had some bombs today. Scored six runs, four home runs."

The pitching was solid, too.

Wright (8-6) allowed one run, five hits, and four walks in six innings, winning for the fourth time in five decisions. He didn't retire the side in order until the sixth, but was good enough to help New York to its 10th win in 12 games.

``I thought Jaret was great," Torre said. ``Again, he always flirts with danger. But he manages to keep his head about him with men on base."

Scott Proctor pitched 1 2/3 innings, and Mariano Rivera got four outs for his 28th save in 30 chances.

The victory, combined with the Red Sox' 7-6 loss to Tampa Bay, put New York a season-high two games in front of Boston in the American League East.

``We're the team that has to be caught. We just don't have to worry about any other team right now," Torre said. ``As long as we play up to our expectations, we should be able to get to where we need to."

Nick Markakis drove in the lone run for the Orioles, who were 1 for 14 with runners in scoring position -- including 1 for 10 in the first four innings.

``That was pretty much the key to the game, not being able to put a couple of runs on the board early when we had the chance," Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said. ``We just couldn't come up with the big hit when we needed it."

Lopez (8-12) gave up five runs and nine hits in seven innings, striking out seven and walking one. He has yielded a team-high 26 homers this season. The four he surrendered yesterday were a season high.

``Once I missed my spot, they took advantage of it," Lopez said. ``I guess it wasn't my day."

Jeter's ninth homer came in the first and Damon led off the third with his 15th homer. Later in the inning, doubles by Bobby Abreu and Giambi made it 3-0.

Cabrera opened the fourth with his fifth homer, and the Orioles finally scored in the bottom half when Markakis singled in Jeff Conine, who led off with a single.

Giambi homered on a 3-2 pitch in the fifth for a 5-1 lead. The score stood until the ninth, when Abreu capped a three-hit day with an RBI single, driving in Damon with the final run.

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