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Three straight jacks keep Yanks streaking

Three straight jacks lift Yankees

NEW YORK -- Nick Swisher kicked back at his locker, cheering replays of his second-inning home run from various angles. After so much talk about wind tunnels at the homer-happy ballyard, he can finally claim one of his own.

Swisher hit the first of three consecutive home runs -- his first at the new Yankee Stadium -- to help lift Phil Hughes and the Yankees to an 11-4 pounding of the Orioles on Wednesday in the Bronx, logging an eighth consecutive victory for the Bombers.

"It's been great to finally get that one out of the way," Swisher said. "I think when you're not hitting, it's like you're listening to a song and you just can't find the rhythm. The beat is off and you're just not feeling it. When things are going well, you catch that song."

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Aside from Swisher, who had eight homers on the road before connecting off Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie (3-4) in the second inning, the pie-throwing, kangaroo-court-attending Yankees haven't seemed to miss a beat.

Robinson Cano followed with his seventh homer of the year -- part of a three-RBI night for the second baseman -- and Melky Cabrera blasted one even further for his fifth, staking Hughes to a 4-0 lead at the time.

Swisher noted that the homers came on three different pitches from Guthrie. He belted a fastball, Cano connected on a changeup and Cabrera hit a curveball, two nights after Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez went back-to-back against the Twins' Glen Perkins.

"You've got to be the guy to do it to experience it," Swisher said. "It seems like Tex and Alex have been doing that every other day. Melky, I and Cano, we kind of felt left out. We just got lucky right there off a tremendous pitcher."

It marked the 11th time the Yankees (23-17) have hit three consecutive home runs, the last coming on June 21, 2005, when Gary Sheffield, Rodriguez and Hideki Matsui went deep against Tampa Bay. It was also the earliest the Yankees have gone deep three times in an inning.

"It gave us a lead, and it gives your starter the feeling that he doesn't have to be perfect all the time," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's fun to watch when your guys have success, that's for sure."

Making his fifth start in the big leagues, Hughes (2-2) put together a good pitch to stick in the rotation, knowing that the Yankees plan to make a decision on Thursday regarding right-hander Chien-Ming Wang.

In two rehab starts at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Wang has fired 13 scoreless innings and says he is physically ready to rejoin the Yankees.

"That's something that we'll talk about, but right now our plans are for [Hughes] to pitch Monday," Girardi said.

Hughes said that his job stability was not on his mind when he took the ball Wednesday, though he understands that Triple-A could be in his future. Hughes won for the first time since April 28 at Detroit and could take the fall for Wang, who has 46 wins over the past three seasons but posted a 34.50 ERA in three starts this year.

"It's part of the game," Hughes said. "You just enjoy the time here and try to make the most of it. You try to win games and just kind of accept whatever comes. It's certainly a good dilemma to be in for them."

The decision took on a new wrinkle after Hughes struck out a career-high nine batters in five innings, serving up two home runs but leaving with a lead after 89 pitches.

The right-hander walked one and scattered six hits, including a two-run home run to Ty Wigginton in the fourth inning and a solo shot to Adam Jones in the fifth before turning the evening over to the bullpen.

There have been 71 homers hit at the new Yankee Stadium, and Hughes was of the opinion he may have given up one cheapie on Wednesday.

"The ball Wigginton hit was crushed," Hughes said. "That ball gets out of any stadium. Maybe Jones' ball doesn't get out of some parks, but it was a bad pitch and he hit it."

Girardi said that a turning point for Hughes came in the third inning, when Robert Andino doubled and Brian Roberts singled. Hughes struck out Jones and escaped the inning on a strike-'em-out-throw-'em-out double play, catching Nick Markakis looking.

"A week ago, he wasn't getting out of that inning," Girardi said. "He's done it twice in a row for us where he's kept damage to a minimum. That's what you want your pitchers to do."

Alfredo Aceves hurled two scoreless innings, lowering his ERA to 1.74, and Phil Coke recorded two outs -- dodging injury on Jones' comebacker that hit his glove and then his left shoulder. He received treatment after the game and said he should be fine.

"Unless I go and do something crazy like run into a wall, I wouldn't feel it," Coke said.

Mariano Rivera came on for a four-out save and New York made it easy, pummeling the Orioles' bullpen to bat around for six runs in the eighth inning, a frame highlighted by Derek Jeter's two-run double off the right-field wall.

The Yankees have batted around twice already in the series against Baltimore (16-24), having also put up seven runs in the seventh inning Tuesday. New York's bullpen has also picked up, going 3-0 with a 1.93 ERA over its past 10 games.

"We're focused and we're having fun," Rodriguez said. "More importantly, we're playing good fundamental baseball and we have to keep an emphasis on throwing first-pitch strikes, getting guys over and making the routine plays. We're doing that."

Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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