A-Rod homers in return but Yanks lose Jeter to bruised hand, game to O's

NEW YORK (AP) -- Just when the slumping New York Yankees got Alex Rodriguez back, Derek Jeter went down with an injury that nearly led to a brawl with Baltimore.

Adam Jones hit a three-run double during Baltimore's seven-run first inning against Mike Mussina, and the Orioles routed New York 12-2 Tuesday night in a testy game that included a late homer by A-Rod in his return from the disabled list.

The Orioles took advantage of a two-out throwing error by Jeter in the first to build a big cushion for Daniel Cabrera (5-1), who handed the last-place Yankees (20-25) their season-high fourth straight loss and sixth in seven games. New York has been outscored 30-8 during the first three games of this homestand.

"I'm hoping this is rock-bottom," manager Joe Girardi said. "It's an ugly loss and you've just got to put this one aside."

Kevin Millar and Luke Scott added tack-on homers for the surprising Orioles, who have won eight of 10 following a five-game skid. Jones finished with a career-high four hits and four RBIs.

With Baltimore up 9-0 in the third, Cabrera hit Jeter on the left hand with a 2-1 pitch and the star shortstop spun away in pain. Girardi and a trainer came out to check on Jeter, who was quickly removed from the game.

X-rays were negative, and Jeter is day-to-day with a bruised hand.

"It'll be fine. Obviously, it doesn't feel good. But I should be all right by tomorrow," Jeter said, his hand wrapped heavily. "He hit me pretty good. Fortunately, it's not broken."

In the sixth, New York reliever LaTroy Hawkins threw one pitch inside to Scott and then the next one over his head. Hawkins was immediately ejected by plate umpire Chuck Meriwether without a warning, while Scott and Hawkins began gesturing at each other.

Scott was sure Hawkins threw at him intentionally.

"You've got to protect your players. That was not it," Scott said. "You never throw at anyone's head. You could end somebody's career, or life."

Hawkins insisted he was simply trying to pitch inside and the ball got away from him.

"The way it looked, he had a reason to think that way. But it wasn't intentional," he said. "Jeter got hit. Nobody else got hit. That's the bottom line."

Both benches and bullpens emptied as players spilled onto the field, but no punches were thrown. Hawkins was replaced by Edwar Ramirez.

"I will be appealing even though I haven't been suspended yet," Hawkins said.

The Yankees trailed 9-0 before Rodriguez even came to bat. Unable to overcome Jeter's miscue, Mussina (6-4) got only two outs against his former team -- matching the shortest start of his 18-year career. The right-hander had won five starts in a row.

"I never got my level of comfort, and it was just bad," he said. "This is the same place we were a year ago. It feels a lot worse than that."

With two on in the first, Scott hit a grounder to shortstop and Jeter said he "originally" planned to go to second base for the force. But it appeared second baseman Robinson Cano was late covering -- he was positioned toward the hole against the left-handed hitting Scott -- and Jeter threw high to first.

"I just threw it high," he said. "Those things can't happen."

The Orioles made Mussina pay. Aubrey Huff and Freddie Bynum had RBI singles in the inning for Baltimore, which set a season high for runs. After scoring the first run of the game, Brian Roberts added an RBI triple to cap the outburst.

After missing three weeks with a strained right quadriceps, Rodriguez returned to the cleanup spot and started at third base. He reached on an error in the second inning, grounded out in the fourth and hit a two-run homer in the sixth to make it 10-2.

Cabrera gave up five hits in seven innings, winning his third straight start. The 6-foot-9 right-hander often struggled with his control early in his career, but hasn't walked a batter in his past two outings. He has issued only three free passes in his last four starts after walking seven on April 28 against the Chicago White Sox.

"He has a purpose to what he does. He doesn't get really rattled. It's called growing up," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

Yankees left fielder Johnny Damon dropped a fly ball for an error with two outs in the second, leading to two unearned runs off Ross Ohlendorf.

New York had allowed five unearned runs all season before giving up eight Tuesday, its most since also yielding eight in a 10-5 loss to Cleveland on May 3, 1990.

Game notes
Mussina also managed only two outs on July 13, 1995, with Baltimore against Kansas City. ... A Yankees starter hadn't allowed seven runs in the first inning since Orlando Hernandez gave up nine in a 17-4 loss to the White Sox on June 18, 2000. ... Orioles RHP Steve Trachsel will get a start this weekend at Tampa Bay, Trembley said. ... New York is 8-12 this season without Rodriguez, a three-time AL MVP.