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Orioles rough up Yankees' Sabathia

FOLLOWING a winter of worry about whether the recession would damage attendance, Major League Baseball returned across the United States on Monday.

Baltimore beat up on C.C. Sabathia and the New York Yankees and Emilio Bonifacio became the first player in 41 years to hit an inside-the-park home run on opening day as the Florida Marlins started the season in style.

Atlanta beat World Series champion Philadelphia 4-1 on Sunday night and 26 more teams had been slated to open on Monday before bad weather caused a pair of postponements: Tampa Bay at Boston and Kansas City at the Chicago White Sox.

They'll now get going on Wednesday (Shanghai time), when Milwaukee and the Giants were scheduled to meet in San Francisco in the last of the 15 openers.

In American League games on Monday, it was: Orioles 10, Yankees 5; Mariners 6, Twins 1; Rangers 9, Indians 1; Angels 3, Athletics 0; and Blue Jays 12, Tigers 5.

In the National League, it was: Marlins 12, Nationals 6; Mets 2, Reds 1; Cubs 4, Astros 2; Dodgers 4, Padres 1; Diamondbacks 9, Rockies 8; and Pirates 6, Cardinals 4.

Even with economic woes, most openers were sold out despite some chilly conditions.

At Camden Yards, Baltimore took advantage of a wobbly Yankees debut by Sabathia, whose US$161 million, seven-year contract is the richest for a pitcher.

Sabathia allowed six runs, eight hits and five walks in 4 1/3 innings. He threw two wild pitches and failed to strike out any batters for the first time since July 2005. "I was terrible," he said. "I battled from the first inning on."

Inauspicious start

It was an inauspicious start for the high-priced Yankees. After missing a postseason for the first time since 1993, New York spent US$423.5 million on free agents Sabathia, A.J. Burnett and Mark Teixeira during the offseason.

New York scored first on Johnny Damon's third-inning sacrifice fly, but the Orioles took command in the bottom half of the inning on Adam Jones' two-run triple and Nick Markakis' sacrifice fly.

Sabathia gave up three more runs in the fifth on four consecutive hits, a ground out and a bases-loaded walk by the pitcher. That was enough for Yankees manager Joe Girardi who pulled Sabathia with New York down 1-6.

"Sometimes, you're not always going to have your rhythm, and today, he didn't have it," Girardi said.

First baseman Teixeira also faltered. The Maryland native went 0-for-4, each time with one or more runners on base.

The Yankees' offense finally got going in the sixth, trimming the deficit to 6-3 on Jorge Posada's home run and Xavier Nady's run-scoring double.

Designated hitter Hideki Matsui's two-run homer in the seventh brought New York within a run at 6-5 but Baltimore, using three pitchers in the inning, got out of the jam when Nady grounded into a double play.

The Orioles broke the game open in the eighth on Cesar Izturis's two-run homer and Aubrey Huff's two-run double.

Starting Baltimore pitcher Jeremy Guthrie gave up seven hits and three runs over six innings. He struck out three and walked three.

Jones and Brian Roberts each had three hits to pace the 14-hit Baltimore attack. Derek Jeter went 3-for-5 for New York, which finished with 11 hits.

In Miami, Bonifacio went 4-for-5 against his former team, stole three bases and scored all four times he reached. Florida also hit three homers over the fence, including Hanley Ramirez's grand slam.

Bonifacio's inside-the-park homer was the first on opening day since Boston Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski did it in 1968.


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