NEW YORK -- The waggling fingers A.J. Burnett eyed when he sneered toward home plate on Wednesday looked odd, and it had nothing to do with the creamsicle coloring Russell Martin applied to his throwing hand.
His nails painted in a peachy shade of orange to clash against pinstriped pants, Martin repeatedly called for a pitch he loves and got nods. Burnett's winning changeup was the talk of the clubhouse on Wednesday after the Yankees' 7-4 victory over the Orioles.
"It took me 12 years to throw a changeup," Burnett said. "He believes in it and I'm starting to, more and more. It's going to be a big pitch. I threw a lot of them in fastball counts tonight and it felt good."
Getting home runs from Alex Rodriguez and Jorge Posada, Burnett pitched scoreless baseball into the seventh inning before serving up a pair of two-run homers -- pitching to the scoreboard with a seven-run lead at the time, as Rodriguez would put it.
Matt Wieters and Brian Roberts hit big flies, but Burnett got the win in the end -- his third in three starts, giving him more than the entire Red Sox team and marking the first time he has opened a season in such victorious fashion.
"I loved him. He threw the ball extremely well," Rodriguez said. "He was flawless for six innings and I thought he threw the ball with a lot of conviction. He mixed in a devastating changeup, and I thought overall he threw to the scoreboard. It's a sign of maturity."
That changeup, the one that Burnett tossed 14 times on Wednesday, has always been a useful topic to fill space during Spring Training but something that essentially vanishes once Opening Day rolls around.
Burnett knows his bread and butter comes with the fastball and curveball, but the changeup had just enough dip and dive that Martin became intrigued by it.
The first-year Yankees catcher -- who had been painting his nails with Wite-Out so pitchers could better spot signs, before trying out a new Technicolor look on Wednesday -- tried to drill the changeup mantra into Burnett's head, over and over.
"It's just something I saw in the bullpen in Spring Training. It's got good action to it," Martin said. "He works it off the same plane and the hitters see a fastball coming at them. The next thing you know, it dips. He gets a lot of ground balls with it."
Burnett's night didn't really roll until he got through the second inning. After that, he sent 12 of 14 Orioles batters back to the bat rack, some muttering about scouting reports that needed updating.
"He had a really good changeup tonight, which last year he didn't use that much," Wieters said. "It's going to take some adjustments now to get used to him throwing three pitches now instead of the two he used to throw. When he's able to throw that changeup over for a strike, it makes it real tough."
After being shut out on Sunday and going dark with a rainout on Tuesday, the Yankees made up for lost time by blasting right-hander Chris Tillman for six runs in 1 2/3 innings.
Rodriguez connected in the first inning for a three-run homer, his fourth of the season and the 617th of his Major League career.
In the second inning, New York chased Tillman with two-out damage. Derek Jeter tapped a soft single near the mound, knocking in Martin, and Robinson Cano ripped a bases-loaded double that brought around two more runs.
"I don't know if we needed six [runs]," Rodriguez said. "I just think overall we want to just keep professional at-bats and we want to keep passing the baton and trusting our teammates. I think the key is no easy outs."
Rodriguez finished the night with 1,839 career RBIs, tying Al Simmons and Ted Williams for 11th place on baseball's all-time list. Jeter's RBI single was his 2,935th, tying Barry Bonds for 32nd place in Major League Baseball history.
"Anytime you hear those names, it's extremely flattering and humbling," Rodriguez said.
Posada tacked on a solo homer off Chris Jakubauskas in the fifth inning, striking the second deck in right field. It was Posada's fourth homer and just his fifth hit of the season, snapping a 0-for-19 skid.
"Everyone wants to feel like they're contributing and swinging the bat well," Girardi said.
Burnett steamed into the seventh, but was touched for a Mark Reynolds double and then Wieters' first home run on a 2-0 cookie.
After a walk to Robert Andino, Roberts joined the party with a two-run homer -- his third -- into the Yankees' bullpen, drawing Baltimore within three runs.
It was the 112th and final pitch for Burnett, who allowed seven hits in 6 1/3 innings. Dave Robertson, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera finished up with scoreless work the rest of the way.
"The way he's throwing the ball, he's going to win games if he can consistently locate his fastball and mix those other two pitches in," Girardi said of Burnett.
In retrospect, Burnett's night turned in part when Larry Rothschild visited the mound with two outs in the second inning. Burnett was becoming frustrated by hitting his heel on the mound during his delivery.
"Don't worry about that right now," Rothschild barked, according to Burnett. "Just get this guy out and we'll talk in between [innings]."
Credit Rothschild with a partial assist. Andino popped out, Burnett won again and a relationship that began with chats at Burnett's Maryland home during the winter is paying some dividends in the Bronx this spring.
"I think with Larry, it's all confidence," Burnett said. "That's what it should be at this level. You've been pitching long enough where you should go out and feel confident that your stuff is good enough."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.