BALTIMORE -- If anyone was stealing signs tonight, it must have been the Yankees, considering the way they slapped around Miguel Gonzalez and the Orioles bullpen tonight. Their 7-5 victory was big for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was snapping a six-game losing streak at Camden Yards.
With both Tampa Bay and Cleveland losing, it also allowed them to gain precious ground in the AL wild-card race with just 17 games left to play.
Mo better: Mariano Rivera had blown his last two save opportunities, and five of his seven blown saves had come in the last month, but Tuesday night Joe Girardi called on him for a four-out save and the old man came through, getting the last out of the eighth and pitching a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 42nd save of the season.
Not another one!: Austin Romine, inserted into the game in the seventh inning after Girardi had Lyle Overbay hit for Chris Stewart, had to leave the game the next inning after taking Adam Jones' foul tip off the helmet. Romine remained in the game for one more pitch but then wandered around behind home plate and was removed from the game. Rookie J.R. Murphy replaced him and allowed two wild pitches to get by him, leading to the Orioles' fifth run.
Bird bash: Alfonso Soriano and Mark Reynolds took Gonzalez deep in the sixth inning, and Reynolds, who Girardi started in place of Overbay even though Gonzalez is a right-hander, justified his manager's faith with a particularly titanic blast deep into the left-center field seats. The solo shots cut Baltimore's lead to 4-3.
Sori sight: Soriano put the Yankees ahead in the eighth with his second homer of the night, his 32nd overall and 15th as a Yankee, a two-run blast into the right-field seats that Orioles RF Nick Markakis didn't even bother to chase. The shot made the score 6-4 Yankees. It was Soriano's seventh multi-homer game of the season, tops in the majors.
Welcome back: Reynolds, who played two seasons here, made no friends in his old ballpark, adding an RBI double in the eighth to make the score 7-4 Yankees. Plus, he may have saved a run at first base by keeping a Nunez throw from sailing wild in the fourth.
Fifth dementia: A pair of boneheaded plays by the Yankees led to four Orioles runs in the fifth inning. First, Eduardo Nunez unwisely chose to throw to first on Henry Urrutia's slow roller to shortstop with runners on first and second. His throw went past Reynolds at first, allowing one runner to score and putting runners on second and third. This was followed by Alex Rodriguez's curious decision to cut off a throw home on Markakis' lineout to left (details below). Two batters later, Chris Davis launched his 49th HR of the season into right-center and the Orioles took a 4-1 lead
Everybody hates Alex: As expected, A-Rod got booed loudly every time up by the small Camden Yards crowd. And some of his teammates didn't seem happy with him when he cut off Soriano's throw home on Markakis' liner to medium left. The throw looked like it would beat Brian Roberts home, but it never got there when A-Rod snagged it, causing Stewart to spread his arms in disbelief and Soriano to pound his glove in frustration.
Ribbie machine: Rodriguez, who knocked in one of the Yankees' two runs Monday night with a solo HR in his first game in the No. 2 hole, drove in the first run of the game tonight with a third-inning liner into the gap that scored Nunez from first. A-Rod added a second double leading off the eighth, turning on a 97 mph heater from Kevin Gausman and lining it into the left-field corner. A-Rod came around to score the tying run on Robinson Cano's ground-ball single to center.
Double jeopardy: The Yankees got a leadoff double from Brett Gardner in the first inning, but came up empty when A-Rod and Soriano struck out on either side of a line out to center by Cano.