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Yankees routed by Orioles

Yankees routed by Orioles

NEW YORK -- The first five innings were the preview, like a trailer for a movie. The snapshots were enticing. Aubrey Huff smacks a grand slam; Daniel Cabrera dominates New York's powerhouse offense.

But this game may have revealed itself in the fullest in the sixth inning, a script that started with Robinson Cano botching a throw for an error.

From there, it just got uglier.

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The box score shows that a Nick Markakis double came next, but the 52,567 at Yankee Stadium saw that left fielder Hideki Matsui misjudged Markakis' line drive, running a few steps in before retreating to the wall to retrieve the ball.

Throw in two singles, two walks, a hit batter and four runs, and that about sums up the inning -- the reel of how things went from bad to worse for the Bombers in an 12-0 loss to Baltimore on Tuesday, the largest margin of defeat this season since a 14-2 loss to Texas in May.

The hard times started with Yankees starter Jeff Karstens and carried into New York's middle relievers, all of whom had trouble throwing strikes.

"Most ballclubs will beat your brains out when you set them up with counts like we did tonight -- 2-0, 3-1, 3-2," manager Joe Torre said. "You really have no room to do anything to keep them guessing at that point in time."

Jim Brower relieved Karstens to start the fourth and Brian Roberts took advantage, ripping a single and stealing two bases off Brower, who did not pay enough attention to the speedster. Roberts scored the first of six runs -- four earned -- that Brower gave up.

From that point on, even though the Yankees had scored seven or more runs in their past 10 home games, New York's chances of a comeback went from slim to slimmer.

"You like to think that you have a chance to come back, but you need somebody to go out there and not give up anything, and we weren't able to do that," Torre said. "They scored in [six] straight innings. The only way you're going to be able to cut into the lead is to put a band aide on it, and we weren't able to do it."

Brower was the pitcher who started the sixth, pitching to four batters without recording an out. Then Torre brought in left-hander Ron Villone, who recorded the first out. Despite being down 11-0 at that point, fans applauded the pop out to third baseman Alex Rodriguez -- there was nothing else to cheer about. It was that bad.

Phil Rizzuto: Sept. 25, 1917 - Aug. 14, 2007

Either that or Cabrera was that good. In spite of his ongoing struggles with the strike zone -- he issued six walks on the night -- the big right-hander allowed only two hits to the Yankees in 6 2/3 innings, a Matsui liner and an A-Rod dribbler. Not even Melky Cabrera, who came into the game having recorded a hit in 18 consecutive games, could find a gap or even a pocket of air.

Cano, who went 0-for-4 at the plate with a strikeout, said Cabrera was a different pitcher than the last time he faced him in Baltimore.

"He's tough because he's a guy who throws hard," Cano said. "Every time he throws to you, it seems like he's sitting next to you."

Like Cabrera, Karstens struggled in the walks category, but Karstens had other things to worry about. After the first inning, his pitches floated up, became flat and were hittable. Or crushable -- at least for Huff's grand slam in the third.

That long ball, along with four other hits, knocked Karstens out of the game after three innings, as he walked four and saw his record drop to 0-3 on the season.

"I've got to start performing sometime soon," Karstens said. "Any time you put baserunners on without them having to hit, I don't know the percentages, but usually they end up scoring pretty good."

Torre said he and general manager Brian Cashman will discuss soon their options surrounding the team's pitching, and Karstens could be at the middle of it.

With Roger Clemens set to return on Saturday, the Yankees rotation will be set, and since Karstens isn't a polished reliever, Torre and Cashman may opt to dip into the bullpen at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

The loss, which snapped New York's four-game winning streak, stung a little bit more because Boston came back to beat the Devil Rays, 2-1, on Tuesday to gain ground on the Yankees and spread the gap in the American League East to five games.

With this game behind them and Wednesday's rubber match in front of them, Torre said the Yankees can't look back. Who would want to, anyway, the skipper noted.

"It's easy to turn the page," Torre said, "when you have something ugly to look at."

Caleb Breakey 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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