BALTIMORE (AP) — One big reason for the Baltimore Orioles’ success last season was Jim Johnson, who led the majors with 51 saves and was as reliable as an expensive watch.
After a solid start this season, Johnson is struggling.
Not coincidentally, so are the Orioles.
Johnson blew his third straight save opportunity Monday night, and Baltimore’s losing streak reached six games with a 10-inning, 6-4 loss to the New York Yankees.
New York trailed 4-3 in the ninth before Travis Hafner homered with one out on a 3-1 pitch from Johnson, who converted a franchise-record 35 successive save opportunities before his current slide. All three of those botched saves have come during Baltimore’s current skid.
“The other guys do their job and I do mine, then we’re not standing here,” Johnson said. “I think everybody’s doing a great job. I’m just not pulling my weight. And I’ll figure it out.”
Johnson wasn’t the only culprit. Starter Freddy Garcia allowed two homers and Troy Patton gave up one.
“We had trouble keeping the ball in the ballpark,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Robinson Cano hit his team-high 13th home run in the first inning, David Adams clubbed his first major-league homer in the second and Lyle Overbay connected in the seventh.
And then there was Hafner, who got hold of a fastball that was way too high in the strike zone.
“He had one bad pitch,” Showalter said.
In the 10th, Ichiro Suzuki led off with a double off Pedro Strop (0-2) and Vernon Wells followed with an RBI double to left. Hafner’s two-out single made it 6-4.
David Robertson (3-0) worked the ninth and Mariano Rivera got three straight outs for his 17th save in 17 tries.
Johnson was 15 for 15 at one point. Now he’s 15 for 18 after blowing save attempts against San Diego, Tampa Bay and the Yankees.
“The ball’s up. That seems to be the common thing lately,” he said. “Just not making the adjustment. I’m trying, you know, doing everything. I’m going to work through it.”
After Overbay put New York up 3-2 in the seventh, Baltimore took the lead against Yankees starter CC Sabathia in the bottom half. Alexi Casilla singled and scored on a double by Nick Markakis, who came home on an opposite-field double to right by J.J. Hardy.
Showalter elevated Hardy to the third spot in the lineup because the shortstop came in with a .321 career batting average against Sabathia. Hardy also doubled in the fifth against the big left-hander.
Sabathia gave up four runs and 11 hits in 6 1-3 innings. He left with New York trailing 4-3, but Hafner’s shot in the ninth preserved Sabathia’s 17-4 lifetime record against Baltimore.
Garcia, who pitched the past two years for the Yankees, allowed two runs, three hits — two homers and a meaningless single — in six innings. Aided by two double plays, the right-hander faced only three batters over the minimum.
After Cano and Adams provided the Yankees with a 2-0 lead, Chris Davis hit his 13th homer for Baltimore in the second to make it 2-1.
Garcia retired eight straight batters before Adams singled in the fifth. He was erased by a double play.
After wasting a two-out double by Matt Wieters in the fourth, Baltimore pulled even in the fifth. Steve Pearce hit a leadoff double and scored on a single by Markakis. Later in the inning, Sabathia retired Adam Jones on a grounder with runners at second and third.
Replays indicated first base umpire Eric Cooper got two calls wrong in the sixth inning, both of which went against Baltimore. Brett Gardner appeared to be picked off first base and was called safe, and Wieters seemed to beat out an infield hit but was called out.
NOTES: Orioles RHP Miguel Gonzalez (blister on thumb) will return from the disabled list Tuesday night and start against the Yankees, who will have right-hander Phil Hughes on the mound. Hughes yielded seven earned runs in the first inning of his last start, against Seattle. … Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira batted in a simulated game in Florida, testing his injured wrist for the first time since spring training. Also, 3B Kevin Youkilis (spine) took batting practice and fielded ground balls; 3B Alex Rodriguez (hip surgery) fielded grounders; INF Eduardo Nunez (oblique) did dry swinging and also took grounders; and RHP Ivan Nova threw 60 pitches in extended spring training. “All our guys are increasing their activity. Everything is on the up and up a bit,” Girardi said. … Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich threw out the ceremonial first pitch. … Suzuki extended his hitting streak at Camden Yards to 20 games.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)