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Yankees postgame: Martin makes the play; Kuroda improving; Chavez delivers; Nunez brings smiles

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Russell Martin showed off his athleticism again in this 2-1 win over Orioles. He sprung after a Hiroki Kuroda splitter that bounced away with two outs in the seventh. Nick Markakis raced in from third, trying to score the tying run. But Martin flipped to Kuroda and Kuroda tagged out the diving Markakis.

“I didn’t really have time to set myself up to throw overhand,” Martin said. “I kind of just optioned it to him. I never was a quarterback, so that was a first for me.”

Kuroda left after seven, allowing one run and four hits. He has allowed just three earned runs and nine hits in 13 2/3 over his last two starts after struggling in two of his first three starts as an American League.

“It seems like he’s making the adjustment,” Martin said.

“He’s a consistent pitcher and that’s what he’s starting to show,” Girardi said.

Eric Chavez’s lefty bat has gotten more use since Brett Gardner went on the DL. Chavez hit his third homer, a two-run shot. He has just 28 at-bats. He hit only two homers in 160 at-bats last season.

“I kind of do feel like you’re in a good little groove,” Chavez said. “But once he comes back, I know what my role is.”

Eduardo Nunez brought smiles to the Yankees’ faces with a couple of awkward-looking catches in his first career start in left. But he had five chances to catch balls and he made every play.

“He talks funny; he runs funny; he swings funny; he catches the ball funny,” Andruw Jones said. “Everything he does is funny.”

Girardi said: “He was tested with some tough plays and did an outstanding job.”

Mariano Rivera earned his fifth save and moved into sole possession of eighth place on the career appearance list at 1,051.

Derek Jeter finished April with a career-high 37 hits, the top total by a Yankee through April 30 since Alfonso Soriano had 46 in 2003

Curtis Granderson has reached via hit or walk in 21 straight games, the longest active streak in the league.

The Yankees are 17-5 vs. the Orioles since the start of 2011 and 30-10 since the beginning of 2010. They are 4-0 against the Orioles this season.

Tuesday night’s pitching matchup will feature Phil Hughes vs. Brian Matusz.