After shaky 1st, Ponson dominates

NEW YORK (AP) -- After a shout-out, Sidney Ponson responded with
a semi-shutout.

Facing the team that pounded him earlier this season, Ponson
pitched a four-hitter and Javy Lopez homered again, leading the
Baltimore Orioles past the New York Yankees 9-1 Thursday night.

"Lucky, I guess," Ponson said.

Ponson (6-12) had quite a night, retiring 18 straight batters at
one stretch.

After going 0-3 with an 8.83 ERA in three outings against the
Yankees this season, Ponson got off to another rocky start when
Bernie Williams hit a leadoff double in the first and scored on
Gary Sheffield's single.

When the inning ended, Ponson made a quick trip back to the
Baltimore clubhouse. He reminded himself -- loudly -- that he had to
get better.

"I screamed, I yelled," he said.

And the Yankees did not score again.

Ponson found his rhythm in a hurry after Jorge Posada opened the
second with a single for the Yankees' third hit. Hideki Matsui
grounded into a double play in the second and New York did not get
another runner until Matsui singled with one out in the eighth.

"You might get knocked out in the first inning, who knows?"
Ponson said. "That's why you play the games.

"I mixed my pitches, kept them off-balance," he said.

Ponson, about 10 pounds lighter than when the Yankees last beat
him on June 24, was in complete command in his third complete game
of the year. For the first time this season, he did not walk a
batter, and posted his third straight win following a career-worst
nine-game losing streak.

"He was dominating tonight. He was spectacular," Orioles
manager Lee Mazzilli said. "I told him before that he was not a
3-12 pitcher. Since the break, he's really turned it around."

Alex Rodriguez grounded into a double play to end the first
inning, helping Ponson escape further damage.

"He's been very good for a long time," Rodriguez said. "But
that's as consistent as I've seen him in one game. Usually, he
gives you a window of opportunity."

Even before the 51,677 fans began booing them in the late
innings, it was an unsettling day for the Yankees. Rodriguez was
suspended for four games for his fight in Boston last week, and
ailing slugger Jason Giambi stayed away from Yankee Stadium while
waiting for test results on the intestinal parasite that's plagued

Melvin Mora drove in four runs, Lopez had three RBI and Miguel
Tejada hit a pair of RBI singles for Baltimore. The Orioles won for
just the second time in 10 games this season against the AL East

Lopez, coming off his two-homer performance the previous day
against Curt Schilling at Fenway Park, hit his 15th homer, along
with a double and single.

Jose Contreras (8-5) pitched on three days' rest without
success. The Yankees brought him back after he got tagged over 5
1-3 innings Sunday night at Boston, and this time the Orioles
roughed him up for seven runs in 6 2-3 innings.

Contreras' problems started after leadoff man Brian Roberts beat
him to the bag for a two-out infield hit in the third. A walk
loaded the bases, Mora followed with a two-run single and Tejada
and Lopez added RBI singles.

Contreras said the Orioles got hits "on pitches I wanted to

"They didn't hit the ball very hard," he said through a

Lopez homered in the sixth for a 5-1 lead. Contreras was pulled
after a pair of two-out singles in the seventh, and the Orioles
finished off reliever Bret Prinz. Mora met him with a two-run
double, Tejada singled home a run and Lopez hit an RBI double.

Game notes
Mazzilli, a New York coach before becoming Baltimore's
manager in the offseason, got his first win at Yankee Stadium. ...
Mazzilli nearly got nailed by B.J. Surhoff's foul liner into the
dugout in the sixth. ... Ponson improved to 4-11 lifetime against
the Yankees. He's lost to them more than any other team. ...
Rodriguez is appealing his suspension, which was set to start
Friday. He can play pending a hearing.