It's been a rocky ride for Chen in first three innings (Markakis homers)

Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin retired the first two Yankees in the first inning tonight, allowed two singles and got the final out.

Chen gave up a leadoff single to Eduardo Nunez and Mark Reynolds' two-run homer in the second inning, then struck out the next three batters.

That's the good and the bad.

Here's just the bad:

Alex Rodriguez led off the third with a walk, Alfonso Soriano doubled, Robinson Cano walked and pitching coach Bill Castro strolled to the mound. Vernon Wells grounded the next pitch, a changeup, into left field for a two-run single and a 4-0 lead.

Steve Johnson warmed in the bullpen as Chen retired the next three batters, but the lefty is down by four runs and his pitch count is up to 72.

Chen gave up three runs and four hits in four innings at Yankee Stadium on Sept. 1. They still seem to have him figured out.

Reynolds two-run shot tonight was the 200th home run of his career and gave the Yankees a 2-0 lead.

Reynolds wanted to re-sign with the Orioles over the winter, but they didn't express much interest. He tried again to come back after the Indians released him on Aug. 12, but wasn't willing to accept a Triple-A assignment.

The Yankees signed him three days later, and tonight marked his fourth home run for them in 65 at-bats.

Wilson Betemit struck out in the second inning, making him 0-for-10 since coming off the 60-day disabled list. He's in the lineup in part because he's 5-for-10 with a home run lifetime against Yankees starter Phil Hughes.

Danny Valencia is on the bench despite batting .564 (22-for-39) since Aug. 4, the highest average in the majors among hitters with at least 35 at-bats, but you already know about his splits.

Could he play more against right-handers while he's swinging such a hot bat?

"It's a pretty good sampling with Danny, and I wouldn't close the door on any part of it," said manager Buck Showalter. "I think right now it's a matchup thing. He's shown a propensity to do real well against certain matchups and he follows that trend.

"Looking at his history with numbers, in Triple-A, too... I think Danny's still capable of being an everyday contributor at some point, but where we are right now, we're going to go with what's kind of tried and tested for the time being."

Update: Valencia pinch-hit for Betemit in the fourth after left-hander David Huff replaced Hughes, and Soriano made a diving catch in left field to rob him of another hit.

Jones reached on an error leading off the fourth, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi went to his bullpen.

The Orioles scored in the third on Matt Wieters' leadoff single, a wild pitch and Manny Machado's two out single - his 70th RBI this season.

Chen has retired nine batters in a row.

Update II: Chen retired 13 in a row before Curtis Granderson homered with one out in the seventh to increase New York's lead to 5-1.

Granderson replaced Brett Gardner in center field. Gardner left the game with a strained left oblique.

Chen has allowed two home runs in four of his last six starts.

Chen is charged with five runs and seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, with two walks, nine strikeouts and two home runs. He threw 107 pitches, 77 for strikes.

Before tonight, Chen had a 9.82 ERA in the seventh inning this season.

Update III: Nick Markakis homered off Huff leading off the bottom of the seventh to reduce New York's lead to 5-2.

Markakis has 10 homers this season, his last coming on Aug. 25. He's hit two in his last 68 games.

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