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Must C Curtains: Montero gets two curtain calls

NEW YORK -- His big league career is only four games old, but Jesus Montero has already displayed why the Yankees consider him their top prospect.

Montero, 21, hit his first two Major League homers -- and got a pair of curtain calls from 45,069 fans -- as the Yankees outlasted the Orioles, 11-10, in a Labor Day matinee in the Bronx on Monday.

Both of Montero's homers came off Orioles reliever Jim Johnson and landed in the right-field seats. The first broke an 8-8 tie in the fifth, and the second gave the Yankees some insurance in the seventh.

"The first one I hit it, I was like, 'That's a home run, for sure,'" said Montero, who stands 6-foot-3 and bats right-handed. "I know right field is right there. So when I feel the bat, it was like, 'Gone.' The other at-bat I hit it kind of the same, it felt the same way, and it was an amazing moment."

His teammates provided a boisterous welcome to the dugout after each blast, and twice he came out on to the field to acknowledge the fans.

"I see everybody doing that," Montero said. "I was dreaming of doing that before. I was always telling myself before, 'One day I'm going to be that guy.' It was amazing moment and an amazing feeling."

Montero, a catcher in the Minor Leagues, was summoned by the Yankees on Thursday when active rosters expanded, and he has served as their designated hitter against left-handed starters -- though the team still plans for him to catch in the long term. He picked up his first Major League hit Saturday and added two more singles Sunday before Monday's heroics.

"I think sometimes you put a ton of pressure on yourself when you have an opportunity to get there," manager Joe Girardi said. "Well, now he's here, he knows he's going to get at-bats, and we're going to see what this young man can do."

Mark Teixeira hit his 36th homer of the season and Robinson Cano added a grand slam as the Yankees overcame a rare ineffective start from Freddy Garcia.

Mariano Rivera allowed one run in the ninth before recording his 597th career save. He stranded runners at second and third with a strikeout of J.J. Hardy to end the game.

Garcia turned in the second-shortest start of his season -- he lasted 1 2/3 innings against Boston on June 7 -- but Orioles starter Brian Matusz was hardly better. Trailing, 5-2, entering the bottom of the second, the Yankees sent 11 men to the plate in a six-run inning. Montero started with a four-pitch walk, and back-to-back one-out doubles by Curtis Granderson and Derek Jeter brought the Yankees within one. Chris Jakubauskas replaced Matusz and promptly walked Teixeira and hit Alex Rodriguez to load the bases. Cano followed with his third grand slam this season, this one a towering blast over the Yankees' bullpen in right-center field.

Garcia gave up a home run to Nick Markakis in the first inning and barely survived the second, when the Orioles batted around and scored four runs on five hits. The righty, whose ERA jumped from 3.09 to 3.50, found more trouble in the third when Mark Reynolds took him deep for a two-run homer. With the Yankees clinging to an 8-7 lead, manager Joe Girardi pulled Garcia after the righty allowed a one-out single to Ryan Adams.

"They hit every pitch I threw," said Garcia, who gave up more than four runs for just the third time this season. "It wasn't one pitch. They hit the slider, split, slow curve, fastball. They hit it. Everything I have."

Scott Proctor made his first appearance as a Yankee since July 23, 2007, and pitched two innings. He allowed three hits, including a home run to Robert Andino. He was followed in relief by Aaron Laffey, who was credited with the win, Luis Ayala, Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Rivera. If the Yankees had not thrown out Markakis trying for an extra base in the eighth inning, the run Rivera allowed in the ninth might have forced extra innings.

Instead, the runs provided by Montero held up, and the Yankees (86-53) won their fifth straight and for the eighth time in nine games. They now own a 2 1/2-game lead over the Red Sox in the American League East. With the postseason a near lock, Girardi has already been asked about the team's plans for Montero.

"The one thing is, you don't get too giddy on one game, and you don't get too down on another game," Girardi said. "We'll watch him over a period of time. We always thought that this young man can swing the bat."

After watching him hit home runs in batting practice and Spring Training, the Yankees have finally seen Montero display his power against big league pitching. Asked about the difference in the two, Girardi laughed.

"I hit some homers in BP," Girardi said. "It's another thing to see it off a guy a guy throwing 95 with that kind of sink. That's a whole different story."

"I hope it keeps going good," Montero said. "I'm not saying tomorrow I'm going to hit two home runs again, but I'm going to try to."

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