Orioles beat Yankees, regain share of first place
Except for the fact that the final out may not really have been the final out.
A 5-4 defeat Saturday night that dropped the Yankees back into a first-place tie with Baltimore ended with a gimpy Mark Teixeira desperately diving headfirst to first base in an effort to beat out a double-play grounder as the potential tying run crossed the plate.
Umpire Jerry Meals called Teixeira out. Replays — and the Yankees — indicated otherwise.
"It was not a bang-bang play. He was safe. He was clearly safe," New York manager Joe Girardi said. "You hate to lose a game that way, but he missed it."
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 Teixeira, who was playing for the first time in 11 games following a left calf strain. On a 3-2 pitch, Teixeria hit a grounder to second that turned into a double play.
Well, at least that's how it looked in the box score.
"I didn't really feel like we lost the game. I feel like we got cheated out of it," New York catcher Russell Martin said. "Umpires are human. They're going to make mistakes. We made our share of mistakes today, and that's probably one of the reasons we lost."
The final out gave Johnson his 42nd save, improved Baltimore's record in one-run games to 25-7 and delighted Baltimore fans in the sellout crowd of 46,067.
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.
The Orioles have hit 12 home runs, three by Reynolds, in the first three games of a four-game series that concludes Sunday.
But Baltimore lost right fielder Nick Markakis for six weeks with a broken left thumb, the result of being hit by a pitch from Sabathia in the fifth inning.
Markakis can only hope the Orioles make a lengthy postseason run and he has a quick recovery.
"It's just a matter of healing," he said. "I'll be in a brace for a while and hopefully it will heal up quicker than I think it will."
Coming off a victory Friday night, New York was seeking its first winning streak since mid-August. The Yankees have 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 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 is 16-4 lifetime against Baltimore, with two of those losses coming this season.
Asked if he felt healthy, Sabathia replied, "I do. There is no excuse for the way I pitched today. I just couldn't make my pitches."
Girardi reiterated three times that Sabathia is not hurt.
Martin said, "It was just one of those days where we were just searching and couldn't find a way to get guys out. His slider wasn't as effective as usual, his changeup wasn't as consistent and I just feel like he didn't have the best feel for his pitches. It was a battle."
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 was pulled with two on in the sixth, and Darren O'Day came in to strike out 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.
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).
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