BALTIMORE (AP) - The poor pitching of A.J. Burnett has become a growing concern for the New York Yankees, who desperately need the right-hander to improve if they want to maintain their pursuit of first-place Boston in the AL East.
Burnett yielded nine runs over five innings Friday night, and the Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles 12-5 despite hitting three home runs.
Burnett (9-11) give up six hits in a six-run second inning that all but assured the Orioles their second win in 11 games against New York this season.
The right-hander walked two and threw three wild pitches in his second straight horrid performance.
``It's really location at this point. He threw some belt-high fastballs,' catcher Russell Martin said. ``The biggest thing is falling behind in counts. When you do that, hitters are more selective. They wait for fastballs.'
Yankees manager Joe Girardi can't afford to remove Burnett from the rotation because the Yankees have a busy schedule in the weeks ahead, including a makeup doubleheader Sunday after Hurricane Irene forced the postponement of Saturday's twinbill.
So Girardi will just have to hope for the best.
``I'm frustrated,' Girardi said. ``Part of my job is to remember it's a person out there struggling. It's not just an employee of the New York Yankees. It hurts me to see someone struggling. We've got to try and fix it.'
In his previous outing, Burnett cursed as he left the mound in the second inning of a 9-4 loss to Minnesota. He has given up 16 runs in his last two starts.
``It's not acceptable,' Burnett said. ``But the bottom line is that I can't worry about my numbers right now. I've got to get on a good track. I've got a lot of support in this room, and that's probably the thing that bothers me most. You feel like you're letting guys down a bit.'
Jorge Posada, Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher homered for the Yankees, who tied a season high with four errors. Rodriguez's homer was his first since June 11 and ended a single-season career long drought of 96 at_bats without a long ball.
It was Baltimore's first home game since former Orioles pitcher Flanagan took his own life Wednesday. Moments before the first pitch, there was a moment of silence in honor of the 1979 Cy Young winner, who died at age 59 of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Flanagan's No. 46 was displayed on the right field scoreboard from batting practice to the end of the game. For the rest of the season, the Orioles will wear a black circular patch on their right jersey sleeves with the word ``FLANNY' written in white.
Orioles catcher Matt Wieters, who hit a three-run homer, said, ``Any time you get a tribute like that, and a moment of silence before the game starts, it's a little bit extra added emotions of the game for sure. It was a big game to win.'
Tommy Hunter (3-2) allowed four runs and seven hits over seven innings, and Mark Reynolds and J.J. Hardy homered in the pivotal second inning to help the Orioles secure their fifth straight victory.
Playing in front of a crowd of 32,762 that included thousands of Yankees fans, Baltimore put on a performance reminiscent of the days when Flanagan and the Orioles were feared by the rest of the American League.
Baltimore got six hits and batted around in the second inning. Reynolds hit his 30th home run with one out before the Orioles rattled off four straight doubles, including one by Matt Angle, who collected his first major league RBI. Hardy capped the uprising with his 25th homer, a two-run drive to left.
A walk, two wild pitches and a run-scoring grounder by Hardy made it 7-0 in the fourth. After Posada homered in the fifth, Nolan Reimold answered with a two-run triple in the bottom half.
Wieters homered off Luis Ayala in the sixth after a two-out error by second baseman Robinson Cano.
Rodriguez homered leading off the seventh, Cano singled to extend his hitting streak to 17 games, and Swisher went deep to make it 12-4. But unlike one day earlier, when New York made up a six-run deficit to beat Oakland, there would be no comeback this time.
NOTES: New York has lost four of six. ... Hardy's homer ended an 0-for-29 drought against New York this season. ... Swisher's homer was the 57th in the 20-year history of Camden Yards to land on Eutaw Street beyond the right-field scoreboard.
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