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Yankees ride Cole’s arm, quick start to 3-2 win over Orioles

On a night when their bats were held in check, the New York Yankees found another way to win.

Gerrit Cole pitched seven efficient innings, the defense backed him up with several strong plays and New York defeated the skidding Baltimore Orioles 3-2 Wednesday night.

Cole (4-0) permitted two runs and six hits with five strikeouts. Behind him, right fielder Marwin Gonzalez made two clutch grabs and Josh Donaldson flagged down several sharp grounders. Then, in the eighth, first baseman Anthony Rizzo grabbed a scorching liner to start an unassisted double play.

New York managed only six hits, but a three-run first inning that featured a sprint from second to home on a wild pitch proved enough to squeeze out a triumph.

And that, to a large degree, explains why New York is off to an amazing 28-9 start. “Tonight we won on baserunning and defense,” Cole noted, “and we’re the Bronx Bombers.”

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No home runs required. The Yankees could muster only a pair of doubles, but they still secured their 21st victory in 24 games.

“It’s been a great start, no question,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Just really pleased with how they’re doing it — in a lot of different ways. Tonight we leaned on the pitching and great baserunning.”

New York broke on top in the first when Gleyber Torres followed two-out singles by Rizzo and Donaldson with an RBI double. Then, on a wild pitch by Jordan Lyles, Donaldson scored and Torres came home on catcher Anthony Bemboom’s errant throw to the plate.

That was enough to propel the Yankees to their ninth win in the last 10 matches.

New York’s 28-9 start is tied for second-best in the majors since 1948, trailing only the 1984 Detroit Tigers at 32-5.

The Yankees will attempt to complete a four-game sweep of last-place Baltimore on Thursday afternoon. The Orioles, who have lost six consecutive, are the only team to take a series from the Yankees this season, winning two of three in mid-April.

After Cole’s impressive outing was done, Clay Holmes worked the final two innings for the third save of his career, all this season and all against the Orioles.

Making his 190th career start and 297th appearance, Lyles (2-4) gave up three runs — two earned — and five hits over seven innings. He struck out eight, including Joey Gallo three times — Gallo’s eighth game this year with three or four strikeouts.

Baltimore closed to 3-2 sixth when Austin Hays hit an RBI double and scored on an infield grounder.

“We’re just a hit or two from breaking out a little bit,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I thought we took really good at-bats off (Cole) the first time in the order, and like an ace does, he settled in and got better as the game went on.”

Boone filled out a starting lineup without stars Giancarlo Stanton and DJ LeMahieu, who were healthy but rested for a team in the midst of playing 23 games in 22 days.

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