NEW YORK (AP) — A.J. Burnett didn’t have an explanation for why he’s always had success in April with the Yankees. He does know why everything was working Wednesday night.
“If they come out swinging the bats like that — I got a four-run lead — I can just take a breath and go at it,” Burnett said.
Burnett remained undefeated in April with the Yankees by pitching effectively into the seventh inning, and Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer as New York scored six early runs in a 7-4 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Robinson Cano added a two-run double. Mark Teixeira had two hits and Jorge Posada homered as both ended slumps and helped New York move into a tie atop the AL East with the Orioles. Baltimore lost its third in a row on a misty, 48-degree night.
Derek Jeter matched Barry Bonds for 32nd on the all-time hits list with 2,935 on the day the former slugger was convicted in a San Francisco courtroom of obstruction of justice.
Jeter had two singles. He has more hits (293) against the Orioles than any other team.
Matt Wieters and Brian Roberts each hit two-run homers in the seventh to make things interesting. Roberts’ one-out drive into the Yankees’ bullpen in right-center ended the night for Burnett (3-0).
The Yankees had to wait a while to play again after being two-hit by Boston’s Josh Beckett on Sunday night — New York was off Monday, and Tuesday night’s game was rained out.
“Maybe the couple of days helped,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “You want to be able to get on the board and get your starting pitcher some runs early.”
Chris Tillman (0-1) gave up four straight hits to start the first inning. Teixeira snapped an 0-for-18 slide with a single and Rodriguez lined a drive over the wall in right field for his 617th career home run and a 3-0 lead.
“It helps to get off to a good start,” Rodriguez said. “Anytime you can get our starting pitching a nice lead, it helps.”
In the second, Jeter drove in a run with a high chopper that went for an infield hit. Rodriguez walked and Cano followed with a bases-loaded double that ended Tillman’s night after 1 2-3 innings.
“It’s real disappointing,” Tillman said. “Coming out of the bullpen I felt real good. I thought I had good stuff.”
The Yankees could’ve had more but center fielder Adam Jones made a spectacular diving catch, sliding on his stomach along the wet grass to grab Posada’s short fly to end the inning with the bases loaded.
Burnett was dominant for six innings, working the corners of the plate with his fastball and making the Orioles chase a deceptive changeup and a biting curveball that often hit the dirt. He gave up a leadoff hit to Brian Roberts, doubles to Mark Reynolds and Wieters, and a single to Vladimir Guerrero.
“He had a good changeup. He threw a lot of them,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “We were able to get him to 50 pitches in about two innings or so but we couldn’t hold the tide and couldn’t get back in the ballgame.”
Yankees catcher Russell Martin said of Burnett’s reluctance to throw the changeup in training camp: “It’s weird not knowing how good a pitch it was.”
In the seventh, he gave up a one-out double to Reynolds before Wieters connected for his first homer of the season. Robert Andino walked, then Roberts homered to make it 7-4, and David Robertson took over.
Burnett allowed four runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings. He walked two, threw three wild pitches and struck out five. The right-hander improved to 8-0 in 13 starts with New York in April since becoming a Yankee in 2009. He also improved to 12-4 against Baltimore and won his first three starts to open a season for the first time.
Rafael Soriano gave up a hit in the eighth and Mariano Rivera was perfect in the ninth for his fifth save.
Posada ended an 0-for-19 skid in the fifth with a drive into the stands down the right-field line.
On a milestone night, Rodriguez passed Ken Griffey Jr. and tied Al Simmons and Ted Williams for 11th place all-time with 1,839 RBIs.
NOTES: After the game, Girardi said an MRI on injured LHP Pedro Feliciano’s shoulder showed damage. He said no course of action will be taken until Feliciano discusses it with the doctors, and his agent and family. … The Orioles placed SS J.J. Hardy (strained left side muscle) on the 15-day DL and recalled Brad Bergesen, who threw two scoreless innings of relief. … Yankees backup C Francisco Cervelli (broken left foot) has resumed taking batting practice. … The Yankees placed RHP Luis Ayala (strained back muscle) on the 15-day DL and recalled RHP Hector Noesi from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)