July 19, 2016

NEW YORK -- It had been a while since Alex Rodriguez had a swing as powerful as the one he produced in his first at-bat Monday.

Later on, Aroldis Chapman provided just as much power on the mound.

The power of Rodriguez early and Chapman in the ninth proved good enough for the New York Yankees.

Rodriguez hit his first home run in a month in the second inning and Chapman highlighted his latest save by reaching 105 miles per hour as the Yankees opened a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles with a 2-1 victory.

Rodriguez ended a drought of 51 at-bats without hitting a home run, dating to when he drove a pitch from Minnesota's Ricky Nolasco over the right-center field wall at Target Field. The drought ended when he drove a 2-0 fastball from Kevin Gausman (1-7) into the left-field seats to open the second inning.

"It's more surprise," Rodriguez said. "I haven't hit a ball like that in a long time. It certainly felt good. A lot of times you come out and do work and you don't get results, you get a walk and a base hit. To get a ball in the air where you actually (homer), it feels really good."

Since his last home run, the 40-year-old had been reduced to a part-time role against left-handed pitching. When he began his fourth straight start, Rodriguez had a .214 average.

"He's a big part of our team, a big part of our order," catcher Brian McCann said. "When he steps in the box he makes a pitcher work regardless of what he's hitting. That was one of the best swings I've seen him take in a while. It was an amazing swing."

Rodriguez's 696th career home run and ninth home run was not the game-winning hit as Ivan Nova (7-5) gave up a home run to Jonathan Schoop to start the third. After Schoop's 16th home run, Nova settled down and finished six innings for the first time in six starts by retiring 12 of the final 14 hitters.

Nova had a 2-1 lead when McCann lifted a sacrifice fly in the fourth and the Yankees turned things over to Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Chapman.

Betances stranded Ryan Flaherty at third to end a scoreless seventh and Andrew Miller got Matt Wieters to bounce into a double play to end the eighth.

Chapman then finished it with some noteworthy moments during an at-bat to J.J. Hardy. He hit the top of a rotating advertisement with a pitch clocked at 103 mph, reached 105 mph on the next pitch and then threw a 90 mph slider Hardy hit to left field just in front of the warning track.

"Sometimes you get a little nervous over there, but you watch him (and) his arm is so quick," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I can't really say I've ever seen an arm that quick, and it's really impressive."

Chapman said he thought the fly ball to Hardy was going to become a game-tying home run. After getting Hardy, he retired Flaherty on a broken-bat ground ball and the Yankees (46-46) returned to the .500 mark for the ninth time since May 24 and moved to within 7 1/2 games of Baltimore.

The Orioles (53-39) lost their 10th straight series opener at Yankee Stadium and scored one run for the first time since getting blanked May 17 against Seattle. The Orioles had scored at least twice in 53 straight games, their longest streak since 1913.

Gausman continued to get little run support from his offense and allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He was lifted after Rob Refsnyder's infield single.

"He had good stuff and didn't make many mistakes," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "I was a little concerned with him having eleven days off since the break, what his command would be like, but that's a real tribute to the work he and the pitching coach did to stay sharp during this. I knew he was going to be strong tonight, but he would have liked to have gotten more to show for it but they pitched a little better."

Gausman turned in his ninth quality start of the season but the one misplaced fastball and the lack of run support led to his 22nd straight road game without a win.

"I didn't feel as good to start the game as I did obviously towards the end of the start but I wish I could take back one pitch," Gausman said. "That's really it

NOTES: Baltimore 1B Chris Davis (stomach virus) was not in the starting lineup and stayed at the team hotel on Monday, marking the second game he missed this season. Manager Buck Showalter said Davis became sick on the flight from Tampa Bay and spent last night at a hospital. ... New York 1B Mark Teixeira (sore left foot) missed his second straight game. Manager Joe Girardi said Teixeira still feels soreness and is unsure if he will play any of the games against the Orioles. ... OF Hyun Soo Kim (hamstring) missed his fourth straight game in the series opener, but will test the injury Tuesday. ... New York OF Mason Williams was activated from the 60-day disabled list and assigned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. Williams had been on the DL with a shoulder injury since June 2015.

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