BALTIMORE (AP) — If there’s any doubt about whether a stint on the disabled list helped rookie Zach Britton, a comparison of his last two starts against the New York Yankees serves as irrefutable evidence.
Britton allowed four hits over seven innings, and the Baltimore Orioles extended their winning streak to a season-high six games by defeating Bartolo Colon and the Yankees 2-0 Sunday in the opener of a split doubleheader.
The Orioles had not won six in a row since April 2008, back when Britton was pitching for Class A Delmarva.
In his last start against the Yankees, Britton yielded nine runs and got only one out in a 17-3 loss July 30. In this one, the left-hander allowed four singles, struck out five and walked one before being pulled after throwing a career-high 120 pitches.
“I wasn’t thinking about getting revenge or anything,” Britton said. “You have to have a short memory.”
It was Deter Jeter’s 2,402nd game with New York, breaking a tie with Mickey Mantle for most in a Yankees uniform. Jeter went 0 for 4 as the designated hitter. He gave all the credit to Britton.
“He threw his sinker, two-seamer, mixed in the breaking ball,” Jeter said. “I mean the last time we faced him, that’s a fluke.”
Jeter fouled a pitch off his right knee in the third inning was a late scratch in the nightcap for the Yankees, who have lost four of five.
Britton (8-9) has given up only one run over 12 innings since coming off the disabled list (strained left shoulder) on Aug. 22. Before going on the DL, he surrendered 23 runs in three starts.
“Not only was it like a break for me physically, but mentally, too,” Britton said of his time off. “Kind of step back, look at video and go, ‘Hey, what do I have to do to get back where I was at the beginning of the season?”‘
Britton is 2-0 during Baltimore’s six-game run.
“When you pitch like that, you feel like you’re playing in a baseball game instead of trying to survive,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
The game was scoreless until the seventh, when Nick Markakis doubled and Vladimir Guerrero singled. Baltimore added a run in the eighth when Mark Reynolds led off with his third hit and scored on a two-out single by J.J. Hardy.
Jim Johnson pitched a perfect eighth inning and Kevin Gregg worked the ninth for his 19th save, getting Alex Rodriguez to hit into a double play after giving up a one-out single to Mark Teixeira, who had three hits.
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano went 0 for 3, ending his 17-game hitting streak. He had also hit in 18 consecutive games at Camden Yards.
The Yankees failed to get a runner past first base in their first shutout loss since June 13.
“I thought he threw the ball — totally different from what we saw at our place last time,” manager Joe Girardi said. “I thought his sinker was really good and I thought he mixed his pitches.”
Colon (8-9) gave up two runs and seven hits in 7 2-3 innings. He had a two-hitter through six innings before faltering. He has lost his last three starts and is 2-6 in his last eight decisions. But he considered this effort to be a breakthrough.
“I feel very happy. Thank God that everything is back together,” he said through a translator. “We’ll see how far we’re going to go.”
Colon surrendered five runs in each of his previous two outings and was winless in his last four starts. But that shortcoming was offset by his exceptional performance in day games: The right-hander was 6-0 with a 1.80 ERA in seven afternoon starts. This loss could be attributed to a lack of run support.
“It was unfortunate we were unable to get him a win,” Girardi said. “Two runs in eight innings. I thought he threw the ball really well.”
The closest the Yankees come to getting a runner to second base came in the third inning. After knocking a foul off his knee, Jeter was robbed of a single when Markakis picked up his short-hop liner to right and threw out Francisco Cervelli at second base.
NOTES: The nightcap was rescheduled from Saturday’s rainout. Reacting to Girardi’s assertion that the teams should have played a doubleheader on Friday — two days after former Orioles pitcher Mike Flanagan took his own life — Showalter said Sunday, “I felt that some of the stuff was a little disrespectful to Flanny, quite frankly. That didn’t sit with me very well. I can tell you that.”
Five of Baltimore’s six shutouts this season have come at home. Britton’s 120 pitches were most by an Oriole this season.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)