The New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 8-7 on Sunday afternoon to complete a weekend sweep of the O's.
Darrell Rasner got the nod for New York. He struggled, going only 3.1 innings and giving up five runs, three of which were earned. Rasner walked two and struck out two.
Daniel Cabrera started for Baltimore, and also struggled in his outing. Cabrera lasted a mere 3.2 innings, gave up seven earned run on nine hits, walked three, and did not record a strikeout.
The Orioles made it hard for Rasner early. In the bottom of the first inning, Melvin Mora connected for a solo homer, his 22nd home run of the season. He was followed by Aubrey Huff, who lifted a homer to deep right field, his 28th home run of the campaign, and the O's went up 2-0 after the back-to-back home runs.
The Yankees came back in the top of the second to take the lead. Robinson Cano doubled to score Xavier Nady, and Johnny Damon pulled a three-run homer, his ninth of the year, to put the Yankees up 4-2.
In the top of the fourth inning, Jason Giambi hit a sacrifice fly to score Damon from third, and Nady doubled to score Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez, giving the Yankees a respectable 7-2 lead.
The Bombers' lead was not held for long as the Orioles fought back in the bottom of the fourth. Nick Markakis singled to score Brian Roberts, Nady made an error in left field, and with one out, Huff doubled to score Markakis.
After Huff's double, Kevin Millar hit a sacrifice fly to score Mora, and the Orioles then trailed by two at 7-5.
Holding a two run lead, the Yankees coughed up another two runs in the bottom of the fifth. With Edwar Ramirez pitching in relief, Roberts crushed a two-run homer, his ninth big fly of the season, and the game was knotted at seven.
The Yankees eventually broke the tie in the top of the seventh. Cano blasted a solo home run to straight away center field measured at 425 feet, his 12th homer of the year, and the Yankees went up 8-7.
In the bottom of the seventh with the tying run in scoring position and one out, Damaso Marte struck Markakis and Mora out swinging to end a threat.
Things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning. Roberts reached base on a four pitch walk from closer Mariano Rivera.
With two outs, Roberts reached third base on a stolen base and error on Ivan Rodriguez. With Roberts as the tying run on third base, Rivera struck Markakis out looking to end the game.
Ramirez gets the win and improves to 4-1.
Jamie Walker took the loss and falls to 1-2.
Jose Veras and Marte each recorded holds, and Rivera nailed down save number 31 on the year.
Cano had a great day at the plate, going 4-5 with the go-ahead home run, two doubles, two runs scored, and two RBI.
"These were tough games, Baltimore has played us extremely tough all year. Every out counts, and we did a great job," said Yankees' skipper Joe Girardi.
"I think just winning three games is really nice, and puts us in a better position against Boston, and Boston better come ready to play," said Damon, who went 2-6 with a home run, three RBI, and two runs scored.
Despite the win, Rasner was not happy with his performance. "It's like I never pitched before. I was disgusted," he said after the game.
After an off-day tomorrow, the Yankees will head home for a seriously important three-game series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx, starting Tuesday night at 7:05 ET.
Andy Pettitte (13-9, 4.17 ERA) will start for the Yankees. He will be opposed by the veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield (7-8, 3.67 ERA).
The Yankees trail the Red Sox by five games in the Wild Card standings, with the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox trailing Boston by a half game each.