Contreras Lights Out In Return

Jose Contreras made his triumphant return from a shoulder injury Sunday, shutting out the Baltimore Orioles for seven innings and halting the Yankees skid at just two games. Jorge Posada's first-inning, three-run homerun was more than enough to put the Yankees over the top, as the Bombers rolled to a 7-0 victory.

Contreras (4-1), out since early June with an ailing shoulder, was effective right from the start. He struck out Baltimore's leadoff hitter, Brian Roberts, with a filthy splitter and did the same to B.J. Surhoff two batters later. The former ace of the Cuban National team lasted seven strong innings, allowing just three hits and a walk while striking out five batters.

Juan Rivera prevented a run from scoring in the first inning to keep the shutout intact before it even really started. With two outs and a man on second base due to Derek Jeter's throwing error, Jeff Conine laced a single to right field. Rivera fielded and fired home to nail Luis Matos at the plate and end the inning.

Posada hit a towering three-run blast in the bottom of the first inning that very well could have been a grand slam. With one out and two on, Bernie Williams grounded the ball to second base. The second baseman couldn't come up with it and eventually ended up shoveling the ball to Deivi Cruz just in time to get Jason Giambi at second. But Cruz didn't really have control of the baseball. The umpire called Giambi out, and Posada homered as the next batter.

The Yankees added two more runs in the second and third innings to take a 7-0 lead. In the second frame, Jeter hit a two-run single to right field. In the third inning, Bernie Williams scored on an error by Cruz, and Posada later scored on Juan Rivera's bases-loaded groundout.

Contreras was the big story of the day however, as he mixed pitches with his extremely effective splitter to retire batters after getting ahead of them in the count. The one walk he allowed came when he licked his fingers and touched the rosin bag while still on the mound with a full count on Roberts. Roberts was awarded first base for Contreras' slip up.

Antonio Osuna and Chris Hammond combined to pitch two innings of scoreless relief and finish the game.

Eric DuBose (1-4) took the loss for Baltimore, allowing all seven runs – just six earned – over 2 1/3 innings. He gave up six hits and walk while striking out two batters. Rick Bauer pitched effectively in relief, allowing just four walks over 3 2/3 innings.

Down two games to one in the four-game series, the Yankees will be looking to earn a split on Monday at 7:05 pm. Andy Pettitte (15-7, 4.12) will take the mound for New York. Damian Moss (10-8, 4.52) will get the start for the Orioles.

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