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NEW YORK — Michael Pineda took a two-hit shutout into the seventh inning and Jacoby Ellsbury hit an RBI single off old roommate Clay Buchholz in his first game against the Red Sox, a 4-1 victory for the New York Yankees on Thursday night.

Close-up camera shots clearly showed Pineda (1-1) pitching for the first four innings with something on his hand, and there was speculation it was pine tar to help him get a better grip. The game was never stopped for an umpire to examine him, and it was gone by the fifth. Pineda maintained nothing sinister was involved.

“It’s dirt,” the former Mariner said. “Between the innings, I’m sweating too much, my hand. I’m putting dirt — I’m grasping the dirt. … I’m not using pine tar.”

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MINNEAPOLIS — The Oakland Athletics brought Jim Johnson into their bullpen when they lost All-Star closer Grant Balfour in free agency. Two weeks into the season, Johnson is 0-2 with an 18.90 earned-run average and one blown save in five appearances for the Athletics. Manager Bob Melvin couldn’t afford to wait while the former Orioles closer got into a groove, removing him from that role Thursday.

Melvin will proceed with a closer-by-committee approach.


Adrian Beltre has a mild left quadriceps strain that will keep him out of the lineup for now, but the Texas Rangers plan to wait and see if their third baseman can avoid a trip to the disabled list.

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