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NYY@BAL: Garcia hurls six frames of two-run ball

BALTIMORE -- The Yankees couldn't be sure what Freddy Garcia might offer them after a 22-day layoff, but the veteran right-hander proved to be rust-proof in his return to the starting rotation.

Coming off the disabled list on Monday, Garcia allowed just a solo homer over six encouraging innings as the Yankees defeated the Orioles, 3-2.

"Everything was working -- I was really happy," said Garcia (11-7). "Hopefully, I can continue to do that in my next start."

Nick Swisher belted a two-run homer off Baltimore starter Alfredo Simon (4-7) that held up as the difference, with Mariano Rivera closing out the ninth inning for his 34th save.

Swisher's 21st home run of the season was his sixth in his last seven games, helping power a Yankees offense that was lacking both Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez due to injuries.

"We do have some guys out, there's no doubt about that, and obviously you know the situation," Swisher said. "You want to be the guy to try and step up. I know everyone in the lineup is stepping their game up a little bit."

Garcia hadn't pitched since Aug. 7, the result of a kitchen mishap that sliced his right index finger and kept the right-hander from throwing his splitter, a key pitch for him.

After tossing only a four-inning Minor League rehab start as preparation, Garcia somehow looked as though he hadn't missed a beat, dispatching the Baltimore lineup with relative ease.

"I don't think Freddy lets the extra rest bother him," manager Joe Girardi said. "I think he understands how to prepare for that. He's not a guy that necessarily needs to overpower people. He's going to use all his pitches, and that's what he did today."

Relying on his now-trademark offspeed array, Garcia kept the Orioles guessing in an 88-pitch outing, scattering two hits while walking one and striking out four. He said that he'd missed competing at the big league level.

"A lot, man," Garcia said. "That's why we're here, to pitch. But sometimes things happen. I cut my finger, and now I'm ready for my turn to pitch."

Mark Reynolds connected for his 31st home run in the fifth, the only damage Baltimore would post with Garcia in the game.

"He throws pitches in counts where you are not looking for them," Reynolds said. "He stays away. You think he's going to give you a pitch to hit. He never really does. He mixes it up."

Reynolds' home run was the first Garcia had allowed in 69 innings, establishing a new career high for the right-hander. His last homer allowed was to the Red Sox's Jacoby Ellsbury on June 7 at Yankee Stadium.

"That's as good as it gets," Girardi said. "He hung one slider to Mark Reynolds and gave us six great innings. I would have signed up for that."

New York got to Simon for three runs in seven innings, securing a split of a rain-shortened four-game series that will have the Yankees returning to Baltimore for a Sept. 8 makeup game.

Mark Teixeira belted a first-inning double off the right-field wall, chasing home Curtis Granderson for Teixeira's 100th RBI of the season. With the tally, Teixeira reached 30 homers and 100 RBIs for the eighth straight season.

"You know when the season starts you're going to get 30 and 100 from Tex," Girardi said. "It's great as a manager and great as an organization to be able to pencil that in."

Simon scattered four hits, issuing two walks and striking out six while tying his career high with 114 pitches.

J.J. Hardy's eighth-inning homer off Dave Robertson made it a one-run game.

Robertson hadn't allowed a long ball since last Aug. 28, and it was the first run the right-hander had allowed away from Yankee Stadium this season.

"Hardy's a guy that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, and they've got some guys that can do that," Girardi said. "He bounced right back."

Rafael Soriano had pitched a strong seventh and Rivera nailed down the ninth to send the Yankees on to Fenway Park, where they will now engage the Red Sox in another showdown for potential first-place bragging rights in the American League East, which Boston leads by 1 1/2 games entering the three-game set.

"We've got two great teams, Boston and us," Swisher said. "These three games are going to be big for us." Comments