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Wang strong enough to earn 12th win

Wang strong enough to earn 12th win

BALTIMORE -- The Yankees found themselves in yet another close game against the Orioles on Sunday afternoon, but this time, they found their collective stride at the plate late in the game to march to a 10-6 win.

New York batted around in the eighth inning and awoke for five runs to avoid being swept for the first time in more than a month and end Baltimore's winning streak at six games.

The late surge made a difference, and a multitude of hitters lent a hand in the rally. Johnny Damon, who started in left field for the first time in the three-game series, made a great impact both at the plate and in the field. Damon hit into his first two double plays of the season on Saturday night but rebounded well, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and four runs scored on Sunday, including an RBI double in the eighth.

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"Johnny had a great game offensively, defensively and on the bases," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "That's the kind of game that he can really build on."

Damon preserved the Yankees' 4-2 lead in the fourth inning, when he robbed Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts of an extra-base hit with a leaping grab in the left-center-field gap. Damon last played left field in the Yankees' last win on Wednesday.

"If I don't come up with it, they score two runs and have Roberts on second or third base with some other guys up who are swinging the bats well," Damon said. "That was something I needed to do."

New York used four hits and five walks by Baltimore starter Daniel Cabrera in the first two innings to vault to the early lead. Designated hitter Hideki Matsui hit sacrifice flies in the first and seventh innings and finished with three RBIs, increasing his season total -- second best on the Yankees -- to 71.

Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang worked six solid innings, holding the Orioles to three runs and inducing eight groundouts. Baltimore shortstop Luis Hernandez's two-run single in the third inning did most of the damage against Wang, who improved to 12-5 on the season and won his ninth game in his last 12 tries.

Torre said that the right-hander didn't have his best stuff and looked like he was struggling at times and was frustrated with several calls that he didn't get from home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook. Nevertheless, Wang was able to notch the victory to finish 5-1 in July.

"The thing is, he's made us expect so much," Torre said. "That's to his credit. We assume he's going to do such and such, and we're surprised when he doesn't. He never stops competing. Aside from his natural ability, that's probably the thing that's the best."

Still searching for his 500th career home run, Alex Rodriguez was one of three Yankees starters not to get a hit. He didn't have many opportunities to hit the milestone roundtripper, drawing three walks, including one intentional free pass. Rodriguez came to the plate twice with the bases loaded, but struck out and grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Rodriguez entered the game with good career numbers against Cabrera. He was batting .400 (8-for-20) with two home runs, but the thousands of flashbulbs that hoped for No. 500 were given nothing memorable.

"He just needs [Monday] off probably more than anybody else," Torre said of Rodriguez, who went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts five walks in the series. It's the emotional stuff that's been going on with him."

Besides Rodriguez's disappointing day, New York's offense looked as potent as it was last week, when it scored 63 runs in five games. The Yankees tied season highs with nine walks and eight doubles, including two each from second baseman Robinson Cano and center fielder Melky Cabrera.

"Today, we were patient," said shortstop Derek Jeter, who left the game after the top of the eighth inning due to a sore left shoulder, which he jammed while sliding into home plate in the second inning. Jeter said that his pain is not an issue, and he expects to play when the Yankees open a three-game series with the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday.

"We got some good pitches, drew some walks, and it was a good offensive day for us," Jeter added.

Jeter also passed Babe Ruth and moved into fifth place in Yankees history with his three at-bats on Sunday, putting his career total at 7,218.

With the victory, New York improved to 3-6 against Baltimore this season, and Torre echoed his superstar's sentiments after what he called a "huge" victory.

"We made Daniel Cabrera throw strikes," Torre said. "We came alive late [Saturday] night, but after last night's frustrating loss, we came out with a good frame of mind today."

Geremy Bass is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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