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Swisher belts a two-run homer in the fourth

NEW YORK -- Nick Swisher had the most powerful swing of the day for the Yankees, but the switch-hitting slugger was more pleased seeing the bottom of the lineup come through with plenty of run production.

Swisher belted a two-run homer among three hits, and members of the Bombers' ensemble cast embraced their chances to shine as the Yankees defeated the Orioles, 8-3, in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader.

"It was huge. Those guys do such a tremendous job," Swisher said. "The talent is there for those guys, and whenever they get an opportunity, they want to make the most of it. I couldn't be more happy for those guys."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi scribbled out a lineup that was without Derek Jeter, Curtis Granderson and Russell Martin for the matinee, and the team was no worse for it.

Settling in for a split-admission, day-night twinbill to make up an April 12 rainout, the Yankees had a breezy start, battering right-hander Chris Tillman for seven runs (five earned) in just 4 1/3 innings.

New York's Nos. 5 through 9 batters racked up 10 hits in 19 at-bats, with six of the team's eight RBIs collected by Swisher, Eric Chavez, Jorge Posada, Chris Dickerson and Francisco Cervelli.

"We expect all our guys to hit, but it seemed like the bottom of the order did a ton of damage today," Girardi said. "Those contributions are extremely important, because it can't always be the guys in the middle."

The support painted over an inefficient start from right-hander Bartolo Colon, who limited Baltimore to two runs on five hits in five innings, but needed 105 pitches to do it.

Colon was handcuffed by a 35-pitch fourth inning, though Girardi said if the Yankees hadn't blown the game open with a three-run fifth, Colon could have gone back out.

"In the fourth inning, I couldn't find myself," Colon said. "I was trying to throw strikes, but I couldn't. I don't know what happened. I was trying my fastball, slider, changeup. Nothing worked in that inning."

Gardner started the damage in the third inning with a two-run single deflected by third baseman Mark Reynolds, and Swisher tacked on in the fourth with his 13th blast, a shot on a 2-0 fastball that came with Robinson Cano aboard.

Swisher has eight homers in his last 38 games after hitting just five roundtrippers in his first 60 games of the season, batting .338 (45-for-134) over this recent stretch.

"It's so funny -- people are like, 'What are you doing so differently?'" Swisher said. "I don't know, man. I feel like I'm trying to be myself again, just go out there and compete every single day. Either way, I like where I'm sitting right now."

Cervelli added a run-scoring single in the fifth, and an error by Baltimore second baseman Blake Davis opened the door for three New York runs in the inning.

"I try to keep it simple and just swing at the pitch I want," Cervelli said. "I got a fastball in the middle, and that's it. I play like every three, four days, and you don't have to try too much."

Singles by Chavez and Dickerson highlighted the production in the frame as the Yankees pulled away against Tillman -- who permitted eight hits, walking one and striking out six -- and reliever Troy Patton.

Activated from the disabled list on Tuesday after missing 71 team games with a broken left foot and other injuries, Chavez was encouraged by his 2-for-4, two-run showing.

"I just hold my breath with all of the injuries, but performance-wise, the swing has always been there," Chavez said. "I just try to stay short and make the plays at third whenever they come my way."

Winning for the second consecutive start, Colon allowed both runs in the fourth inning, as Craig Tatum drove in Reynolds on a fielder's choice, and J.J. Hardy connected for a run-scoring groundout.

Colon walked two and struck out six in the effort, his second-shortest start as a Yankee after having lasted just two-thirds of an inning in a July 14 start at Toronto.

"I think on a day where he didn't have his 'A' stuff, he limited the damage and got us a win that we needed," Girardi said, "so I'd say that's a good job."

Cory Wade hurled three innings of one-run relief, serving up only a solo homer to Reynolds, before Boone Logan wrapped up a scoreless ninth for New York.


"I've done it in the past," Wade said. "I haven't done it in a little while, but I have experience starting. You go out there and try to get outs as quick as you can, and try to make the innings as short as possible."

The Yankees will recall right-hander Ivan Nova from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to make the start in the 7:05 p.m. ET contest, opposed by Orioles left-hander Zach Britton.

"We were able to give a few guys a rest in the first game, and some of the guys are going to have to play two, but we're trying to be smart about this," Girardi said. "You've just got to go out and play good ball."

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