Series: Game 1 of 3

Baltimore leads 1-0 (as of 4/8)

Game 1: Friday, April 8
NY Yankees5
Game 2: Saturday, April 9
NY Yankees8
Game 3: Sunday, April 10
NY Yankees2

Orioles 12

(2-2, 1-0 away)

Yankees 5

(2-2, 2-2 home)

    7:05 PM ET, April 8, 2005

    Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

    123456789 R H E
    BAL 003124011 12 18 1
    NYY 100021001 5 9 0

    W: S. Ponson (1-0)

    L: J. Wright (0-1)

    O's rock Wright for six runs on eight hits

    NEW YORK (AP) -- Lee Mazzilli decided to have a little fun with a flukey statistic.

    Within earshot of Sammy Sosa in the Baltimore clubhouse, the Orioles manager asked Brian Roberts how many homers he had.

    The light-hitting leadoff batter had homered for the second straight day to spark the Baltimore Orioles' slumbering offense to a 12-5 romp over the New York Yankees on Friday night.

    "It's always a big joke if I hit a homer," Roberts said.

    Sosa, Miguel Tejada and Rafael Palmeiro, the Orioles' 3-4-5 hitters, have yet to homer this season in 33 at-bats.

    "Coming off three games where we didn't hit the ball, it seemed like everybody contributed," Mazzilli said. "Especially the bottom of the order."

    Roberts had a lot of help from No. 9 hitter Luis Matos, and Sidney Ponson put an offseason of trouble behind him with a serviceable start to help Baltimore end an early season two-game skid.

    Roberts hit a two-run homer off Jaret Wright -- making his Yankees debut -- drove in four runs and finished a double short of the cycle. Matos scored three runs and finished a homer short of the feat. Tejada had three of Baltimore's 18 hits.

    "That's what we're trying for," said Tejada, the 2002 AL MVP. "It's not about one guy, it's not about me or Sosa."

    The Orioles pumped up their offense in the offseason by adding Sosa (574 homers) to a lineup already including Palmeiro (551), but Baltimore sputtered in the last two games of an opening series against Oakland, hitting just .113 (7-for-62) with one run.

    Sosa went 1-for-4, was hit by a pitch and was booed each time up in his first game at Yankee Stadium since April 17, 1991, when he was on the Chicago White Sox.

    Ponson spent 11 days in an Aruban jail for his involvement in a Christmas Day brawl, was arrested on DUI charges in Florida less than month later and injured his pitching hand in a fight with an intoxicated fan in late March.

    A Knight in the Order of the Dutch Royal House in his native Aruba, Ponson was dropped to fourth in the Orioles' rotation because his first spring training start was delayed while he waited to obtain a work visa.

    After overcoming a shaky first inning Friday in which he threw a wild pitch and gave up an unearned run, Ponson worked effortlessly until into the fifth inning, when he gave up Gary Sheffield's long two-run homer into the New York bullpen.

    "I'm not really happy with what I did," Ponson said of his outing. "I'm glad these guys picked me up."

    Ponson was removed following Derek Jeter's run-scoring single with two outs in the sixth having allowed four runs -- three earned -- and eight hits. He struck out four and threw two wild pitches.

    "He doesn't throw anything straight," Jeter said. "Give him credit, he pitched well against us."

    Jeter, back in the Yankees' lineup after being hit by a pitch in the helmet Wednesday against Boston, went 3-for-3 with two walks and scored two runs.

    Wright did not fare nearly as well as fellow newcomers Randy Johnson and Carl Pavano did in their first starts in pinstripes.

    Signed to a $21 million, three-year contract after going 15-8 for Atlanta last season, Wright was hit hard in four-plus innings. He gave up six runs and eight hits while striking out four.

    "The first inning he looked fine," Yankees manager Joe Torre said, "And after that he had some bad counts. Poor location got him."

    Wright left to a sizable Bronx cheer, then sat alone at the end of the New York dugout shaking his head.

    "Everything doesn't always happen the way you want it to," Wright said. "I would have liked it to be different."

    The Orioles scored three times in the third behind Matos' RBI single and Roberts' homer. Matos added a run-scoring triple as Baltimore batted around in a four-run sixth. Roberts, Tejada and Javy Lopez each had RBI singles in the inning.

    Game notes

    Hideki Matsui hit his third homer of the season in the ninth inning. ... Bernie Williams went 0-for-4 and is 0-for-12 this season. ... A plaque honoring longtime UPI photographer Jack Balletti was dedicated before the game. ... Every Baltimore starter except Melvin Mora had a hit.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press