BALTIMORE (AP) — The Orioles continued their long-ball onslaught against the Yankees, hitting three home runs off CC Sabathia in a 5-4 victory Saturday night that moved Baltimore back into a tie atop the AL East with New York.
Mark Reynolds, Lew Ford and J.J. Hardy homered for the Orioles, who have won 11 of 15 overall and nine of the last 13 against the Yankees. With a victory Sunday, Baltimore will win the season series (10-8) for the first time since 1997.
Trying to secure a victory for Joe Saunders (2-1), Baltimore closer Jim Johnson entered with a 5-3 lead in the ninth. He promptly gave up three straight singles, the last a bunt by Derek Jeter, to load the bases with no outs.
Nick Swisher drove in a run with a forceout. Johnson then went to 3-0 on Mark Teixeira, who was playing for the first time in 11 games after being sidelined with a calf injury. On a 3-2 pitch, Teixeria hit a grounder to second that turned into a game-ending double play in spite of Teixeira’s desperate slide into first.
That gave Johnson his 42nd save, improved Baltimore’s record in one-run games to 25-7 and delighted Orioles fans in the sellout crowd of 46,067.
Baltimore has hit 12 home runs, three by Reynolds, in the first three games of a four-game showdown that concludes Sunday.
But it might have been a costly win. Orioles leadoff hitter Nick Markakis was struck in the left hand by a pitch from Sabathia in the fifth inning and immediately left for a pinch runner. The team offered no word on his condition, but Markakis was wearing a splint while watching from the dugout in the late innings.
Coming off a victory Friday night, New York was seeking its first winning streak since mid-August. The Yankees have now gone 22 straight games without successive victories.
Sabathia (13-5) gave up five runs and eight hits in 6 1-3 innings. The three homers he allowed were a season high, and the left-hander has now yielded a career-high 21 for the year.
It was the first time in six starts Sabathia surrendered more than three runs. The Yankees have lost each of his last three starts, something that’s happened only once before — in May 2010. He’s now 16-4 lifetime against Baltimore, with two of those losses coming this season.
Alex Rodriguez hit his second homer in two games for New York to extend his hitting streak to 12, his longest run since a 12-gamer in 2009.
Making his third start for Baltimore since coming over in a trade with Arizona, Saunders allowed two runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings. The left-hander left with two on in the sixth, and Darren O’Day came in to strike out Russell Martin and pinch-hitter Curtis Granderson.
Granderson had another chance to deliver in the eighth after Rodriguez homered off Pedro Strop to make it 5-3. With runners on the corners and two outs, Brian Matusz entered and retired Granderson on a foul pop.
New York got a first-inning run when Jeter singled, took third on a double by Teixeira and scored on a fly ball by Rodriguez.
A walk to Martin and an RBI double by Ichiro Suzuki made it 2-0 in the second. In the bottom half, Reynolds homered and Ford followed with a shot to center.
Baltimore went up 3-2 in the third when Markakis singled and Hardy delivered a two-out double.
After Hardy hit a solo shot in the sixth, Adam Jones doubled and scored on a single by Ford, whose two RBIs in the game doubled his season total.
NOTES: Swisher went 0 for 5 and is hitless in his last 24 at-bats, part of a 2-for-39 skid. Baltimore has 107 homers at home, 14 short of the club record set in 1996. Yankees LHP Andy Pettitte pitched a simulated game at Camden Yards, throwing 45 pitches without discomfort. Pettitte, who’s been on the DL since June 28 with a fractured left ankle, is expected to throw around 60 pitches in another simulated game in Boston next week. New York sends Freddy Garcia (7-6) to the mound in Sunday’s finale. The Orioles will start LHP Zach Britton (5-1).
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)