BALTIMORE (AP) -- The schedule said it was the second game of a
long, 162-game season. To David Wells, however, it was much more.
David Wells looked right at home dressed in his Yankees best again.
For Wells, it was the first game of his reborn baseball career."I was nervous all day," he said. "This was my first start
since July, and it was a big night for me -- being back with the
team I've always loved."Wells ultimately fought off the uncharacteristic case of jitters, pitching marvelously into the eighth inning as the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 1-0 Wednesday night.Newcomer Robin Ventura homered over the right-field wall in the
seventh against Jason Johnson to break up an outstanding pitching
duel.Signed by New York as a free agent in January, Wells (1-0) looked every bit as good as he did during his first stint with the Yankees, when he went 34-14 in 1997-98 and pitched a perfect game.The left-hander allowed four hits, walked one and struck out one
in 7 1/3 innings.It was Wells' first start since last June, when he cut short a disappointing 5-7 season with the Chicago White Sox to undergo back surgery."Since 8 this morning, when I woke up, I've been climbing the walls. I was really antsy today," he said.Despite his concern, everything turned out just fine in a game that was played in 53-degree temperatures and a swirling wind that made it seem much colder."I had it all working, but it was a little tough tonight with the wind coming in. I prefer cold weather," Wells said. "I've pitched well in the cold my whole career. It's great. I'm on Cloud 9 right now. I did my job. I kept us in the ballgame."After being held hitless in a 10-3 loss to Baltimore on opening
day, Ventura walked and singled before driving an 0-1 pitch over
the right-field scoreboard in the seventh."It was an off-speed pitch that he left up a little bit,"
Ventura said. "I think the wind kind of helped it a bit. The ball
was hooking, and it brought it back to the line."Obtained in a trade with the New York Mets for David Justice,
Ventura has 16 career homers against the Orioles, most against any
major league team except Detroit.Wells was lifted after Mike Bordick doubled in the eighth. Steve
Karsay then retired Jerry Hairston on a fly ball before Mike
Stanton got Chris Singleton to hit a routine fly to center.Mariano Rivera, who blew a save opportunity against Arizona in
Game 7 of the World Series last year, got three outs to earn his
first save of the season.Baltimore failed to put a runner in scoring position through the
first six innings, wasting leadoff singles by Jay Gibbons, Singleton and Melvin Mora in the third, fourth and fifth innings."David Wells is a very good pitcher. He pitches in probably as
good as anyone in the league," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said.
"He changed speeds well tonight, too, and really kept us off
balance."Johnson (0-1) allowed six hits in 7 2/3 innings, walking one and
striking out six. He's lost seven straight decisions since July 7."We pitched well enough, we played defense well enough, we hit the ball hard enough," Hargrove said. "If we continue to play like that, we'll be all right."
Gary Williams, coach of Maryland's national championship
basketball team, sat on the first base side and was given a
standing ovation when shown on the scoreboard in the middle of the
fifth inning. He will throw out the first pitch before Friday's
game against Boston. ... Singleton's single, his first in a
Baltimore uniform, snapped an 0-for-6 skid. ... The Yankees avoided
going 0-2 at Camden Yards, where they won their first seven games
last year and finished 8-2.