Jeremy Guthrie was supposed to be the exception. Before the season began, Guthrie was billed as the one member of the rotation that the Baltimore Orioles could count on.

NEW YORK — Jeremy Guthrie was supposed to be the exception. Before the season began, Guthrie, a 1997 Ashland High graduate, was billed as the one member of the rotation that the Baltimore Orioles could count on.

Sure, he wasn't expected to dominate the opposition by piling up wins and strikeouts. The Orioles would be plenty satisfied with him taking the ball every five days, getting deep into the game and giving the team chances to win. Six weeks into the season, Guthrie has left the Orioles with no idea what they're going to get from him when he takes the mound.

On Wednesday night, with the Orioles badly in need of a strong outing, Guthrie was at his enigmatic best, giving up home runs to three consecutive New York Yankees in the second inning. He steadied himself to survive seven innings, but the five-run hole that he put the Orioles in was too much in an 11-4 loss in front of an announced 43,903 at Yankee Stadium. The loss, the Orioles' third in a row and fourth in the past five games, dropped them to a season-low eight games under .500 at 16-24. Having already been outscored, 20-5, in the series, they'll try to avoid a third series road sweep Thursday with struggling right-hander Adam Eaton taking the mound.

Guthrie (3-4) salvaged his outing somewhat by closing it with four consecutive scoreless innings before leaving in favor of Danys Baez, who combined with Jamie Walker to give up six runs in the eighth inning as the Yankees again turned the game into a rout. Guthrie retired 12 of the final 13 hitters he faced with the exception of hitting Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira in the middle of the back with a fastball in the fifth inning.

However, the damage had long been done, and most of it came in the second inning, when the first three batters Guthrie faced found the right-field seats. Nick Swisher and Robinson Cano connected for the first two home runs, their shots landing just a couple of rows over the hitter-friendly right-field porch. Melky Cabrera then connected for the Yankees' third consecutive home run, his ball soaring into the second deck in right field.

It was the first time in Guthrie's career that he had given up three home runs in a game. It also marked just the 11th time in the Yankees' storied history and the first since June 2005 that they went back-to-back-to-back.

New York, which has won eight consecutive games, added an additional run in the third inning on Cano's RBI single, giving the home team a 5-0 lead. Guthrie, whose ERA stands at 5.37, allowed no more hits or runs after that point, but his outing marked the third time this season in which he has given up five earned runs or more. He did that just four times all of last year in 30 total starts.

Guthrie, however, doesn't deserve all the blame for the Orioles' latest loss. Aside from Ty Wigginton's two-run home run in the fourth inning, which broke the Orioles' homerless streak at 44 1/3 innings, and Adam Jones' solo shot in the fifth that cut the Yankees' lead to 5-3, the Orioles' lineup faltered again.

Yankees starter Phil Hughes, who had allowed eight runs in just 1 2/3 innings against the Orioles less than two weeks earlier, struck out a career-high nine batters, including the Orioles' No. 2, 3 and 4 hitters — Jones, Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff — six times in eight at-bats.

The third inning crystallized the Orioles' recent offensive struggles. They had men on first and third and nobody out after a leadoff double by Robert Andino and an infield single by Brian Roberts. However, Hughes struck out Jones and then caught Markakis looking at a 3-2 curveball. Roberts was running on the play, but he was tagged out after a brief rundown to end the inning.

Distributed by the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service