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Colon hurls 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball

BALTIMORE -- The Yankees' quiet bats didn't provide much to talk about, but Bartolo Colon took a stride toward silencing those who believe the veteran is running out of steam.

Colon permitted two runs in 7 2/3 innings on Sunday but was outdueled by a very sharp Zach Britton as the Yankees fell, 2-0, in the first game of a day-night doubleheader at Camden Yards.

"I really don't feel tired," Colon said. "Every time I pitch, I won't pitch the same. Sometimes I'm going to get hit, and sometimes I'm going to pitch the way I pitched today."

With the Yankees eventually looking to get back down to a five-man pitching rotation in preparation for a postseason run, manager Joe Girardi would gladly take a performance like this one every time.

"It's real encouraging for us," Girardi said. "He had struggled a little bit [recently]; he hadn't been as sharp. I thought he was real sharp today. I think that maybe the extra rest helped him recharge it a little bit and got him going."

The Yankees have had some concern about Colon's growing innings count -- 138 2/3 through Sunday. But with Britton spinning a gem, Colon matched his counterpart into the seventh, as the Orioles cracked through with the first run of the game.

Nick Markakis opened the seventh with a ringing double off the high wall in right field, and after a groundout, Vladimir Guerrero slashed a run-scoring single through the right side of the infield.

Nick Swisher's throw home sailed high and to the third-base side of home plate as Markakis scored. Francisco Cervelli then fired to second base, cutting down Guerrero attempting to advance on the throw.

"I know I threw a couple of pitches that they got a base hit and scored a run, but ... other than that, I feel really good," Colon said.

J.J. Hardy's RBI single in the eighth gave the O's an insurance run and sent Colon to the showers after 7 2/3 innings, scattering seven hits while walking none and striking out four.

"It's good. That's the kind of game he needed to get his confidence back," Cervelli said. "He'll be fine. He's going to be good for the last month."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter glanced even further ahead, saying the Yankees could be well-set with Colon in October.

"I don't know if any pitcher deserved to lose that game," Showalter said. "Somebody's talking about their rotation in the playoffs; it's a pretty good option to have. He's impressive. He has so much late life."

The Yankees were unable to manage anything against Britton, who blanked the Bombers on four hits over seven innings in front of a crowd of 28,751 on a pleasant afternoon in the Inner Harbor.

Britton tossed a career-high 120 pitches, not permitting a runner to get as far as second base as he walked one and struck out five.

"It is kind of shocking," Swisher said. "We expect a lot out of this lineup, and when something like that happens to us, we take that to heart."

It was an impressive rebound for Britton, who turned in his worst start of the year against the Yankees in New York on July 30, lasting just one-third of an inning and permitting nine runs (six earned).

"That's a fluke, you know what I'm saying?" Derek Jeter said about the July 30 game. "He's got good stuff. His fastball, you don't really see too many balls that are straight. He pitched well."

Jeter went hitless in four at-bats as he played in his 2,402nd career game, surpassing Mickey Mantle for the most games played in franchise history.

Having been pushed back a day by Hurricane Irene, the Yankees and Orioles will play the second game of the day-night doubleheader at 7:35 p.m. ET, with right-hander Ivan Nova opposing left-hander Brian Matusz.

"I'm really excited to see how we bounce back," Swisher said.

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