"I felt very good out there today. I felt much, much better than the five runs," said Guthrie. "I actually felt more comfortable today with everything. Everything felt physically better, and I felt like I executed more comfortably."
"His last outing was tough on him because he didn't feel like he had command. He didn't feel like he had real good fastball command and he takes a lot of pride in that," added manager Dave Trembley. "I'm never going to second-guess or fault Guthrie. I know who he is and what he does and what he means when he pitches for us. He always gives us a chance."
Guthrie, Baltimore's unquestioned staff ace, lost his second straight decision for the first time since the end of May. And it was clear early on that he didn't have his best stuff. The first batter of the game, Johnny Damon, drilled a long foul to right field before singling, and Alex Rodriguez doubled in a run on a ball that came within a foot of clearing the fence.
Still, it took some defensive mistakes for the Yankees to score their first two runs. Damon came around on the double, but the relay from shortstop Juan Castro beat him by a few feet. Catcher Ramon Hernandez was unable to block the plate and an errant throw from Brian Roberts pulled Guthrie (10-10) off first base on the next play, allowing Rodriguez to score.
"I think seven inches in the first inning separated me from zero runs to two runs," said Guthrie. "If Ramon catches the ball and makes the tag... At the same time, about five inches separated Alex from a two-run homer.
"And then the throw to first base, I've watched the replay and my toe wasn't two inches above the bag as I extended for it. ... Six inches literally determined two runs in that first inning, and that kind of set the tone."
New York (69-60) brought that lead into the second inning, but Baltimore quickly wiped it off the books. Castro drove the first run in on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly, and it was deep enough to allow the two trailing runners to move up. They both eventually scored, and the inning ended on a controversial strikeout call that resulted in Trembley's ejection.
Melvin Mora struck out on a ball in the dirt, and he moved toward the dugout before running to first base. Several Yankees left the field without making the tag, and Mora gamely trotted on to second base. He was initially ruled safe, but after an animated argument by Yankees manager Joe Girardi and an on-field consultation between umpires, he was signaled out.
That brought Trembley out of the dugout for his own protest, spurring the ejection. After that, he went into the batter's box and simulated Mora's reaction and angrily pointed at the ground several times before storming off the field. Trembley declined comment about the play after the game, preferring not to risk a fine from the league office.
"Here's what happened," said home-plate umpire Joe West. "I see the ball in the dirt. The hitter walked toward the dugout to throw his bat and helmet away. He, in doing so, has abandoned his effort to reach the next base. He's called out, according to the rule. I didn't see him because I'm watching [the catcher] with the ball. So that's why I had to ask for help. 'What did [Mora] do?' And they all agreed that he abandoned his effort to go to first, and that's why he was called out."
"I didn't try to trick [anybody]," said Mora. "I just saw the ball hit the dirt and I was thinking, 'I'd better go,' when I saw the umpire looking at me and nobody calling anything. I just went to first base to see what happened."
The Orioles (61-67) had trouble mounting any offense after the second, allowing starter Carl Pavano to settle down. Guthrie didn't have it quite as easy, allowing a two-run home run by Jason Giambi in the third and a solo shot by Hideki Matsui in the seventh. The Baltimore bullpen stranded two runners in the seventh, saving Guthrie's ERA from further damage.
The home team had several chances against Pavano, who was making his first start of the year and his third since the end of 2005. Roberts got doubled up from second base on a liner in the first inning, and Baltimore struck out three times with two men on base in the fourth. Pavano (1-0) pitched five innings, and Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 30th save.
"When you look at a pitcher, you look at his command, and he had pretty good command of his pitches tonight," said center fielder Jay Payton, who went 3-for-4 for the Orioles. "He had his split and changeup down, and located his fastball well. Obviously, he wasn't lighting up the radar gun, but you don't have to do that in this game if you hit your spots."
"Pavano mixed his pitches. He got some big outs on breaking balls and his split," Trembley said. "They got some hits with two strikes [and] the home run ball obviously hurt us. We had some chances, and it didn't happen."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.