Held hitless through five innings by CC Sabathia and down by three runs with a rookie on the mound, the Baltimore Orioles didn’t appear to be in position to muster a comeback against the New York Yankees.
A couple of dinky hits and a daring move on the basepaths got the Orioles started, and Nate McLouth hit a tiebreaking home run in the seventh inning to rally Baltimore to a 4-3 victory Friday night.
"Tonight was a team win because we didn’t get anything until the sixth inning," said Adam Jones, who drove in the tying run. "We got everything in spurts."
Sabathia was vying for his 200th win and New York manager Joe Girardi was in line for his 600th career victory, but Orioles rookie pitcher Kevin Gausman was the one who ended up celebrating a milestone win.
Gausman (1-3) earned his first major league victory, allowing three hits over 4 1-3 innings as part of a relief crew that blanked the Yankees over the final six innings. Gausman followed for Rule 5 draftee T.J. McFarland, who yielded three runs in 2 2-3 innings in his first major league start.
"It’s funny because McFarland got his first (win) when I was pitching and I got my first when he started," Gausman said.
Tommy Hunter got the final six outs for his second save. Orioles manager Buck Showalter opted against using closer Jim Johnson, who has blown five save opportunities this season.
"I think he’s leading the league in appearances, he pitched three out of four days, threw 60-something pitches in three days," Showalter said. "I just wanted to give him one more day. He feels good and I want to keep him that way."
Sabathia (8-6) took a no-hitter and a 3-0 lead into the sixth, when it all came apart.
"We’ve been battling and scuffling all year, fighting through all the injuries," the left-hander said. "Then to come out here and get three and not be able to hold it… it’s extremely frustrating."
McLouth and Casilla singled and scored on a double by Manny Machado, who was 2 for 13 lifetime against Sabathia. Machado took third on a fly ball by J.J. Hardy and came home on an infield dribbler by Jones — a hit that mirrored Casilla’s earlier in the inning.
"We got a couple swinging bunts there that worked out our way," Showalter said.
Plus, Machado wouldn’t have scored had he not advanced on the fly ball. Making the final out at third base is a cardinal sin in baseball, but Machado’s risk proved worthwhile.
"I think that’s the key to the game," Jones said.
At least as significant as McLouth’s shot on an 80 mph slider. When the ball cleared the fence, Sabathia dropped into a crouch on the mound and wore a disgusted look on his face, about the same frown he displayed when walking off the mound.
"It was just everything from the night," Sabathia said. "Like I said, not being able to hold the lead, and then the ultimate of giving up the lead and giving up the game. It’s frustrating. I try not to show my emotions too much, but it happens."
Sabathia allowed four runs and five hits in seven innings. He was seeking his 200th career win; instead, the left-hander fell to 17-5 lifetime against the Orioles.
In the days leading up to the game, the Yankees listed David Phelps as their starter. But Sabathia got the call, and Girardi insisted the mix-up stemmed from a miscommunication between pitching coach Larry Rothschild and the team’s public relations department.
"In my mind, it was always CC on Friday and Phelps on Saturday," Girardi said.
Robinson Cano had three hits for the Yankees to move past Frank Crosetti into 19th place on the team career list with 1,543. Cano drove in a run and scored one, but it wasn’t enough to prevent New York from losing its third straight and 11th in 16 games.
McFarland faced only three batters before falling into a 1-0 hole. Brett Gardner opened the game with a double and scored on a single by Cano.
The Yankees got two on with one out in the second before McFarland worked out of the jam. But the rookie couldn’t get through a third inning in which New York scored twice on four hits.
Singles by Lance Nix, Cano and Vernon Wells produced a run, and Chris Stewart chased McFarland with a two-out RBI single for a 3-0 lead.
Through five innings, the only Baltimore batter to reach was Alexi Casilla on an error by third baseman Alberto Gonzalez.
In the sixth, though, the Orioles finally solved Sabathia.
"I feel like I’m wasting starts," he said. "I’m throwing the ball good, but just not being able to put together a whole start. It’s frustrating."
NOTES: Commenting on the effort of injured stars Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez to return, Girardi said, "I don’t know which one we’ll see play in a game first." … Baltimore’s Adam Jones has not drawn a walk in 165 plate appearances since May 18. … Machado’s double was his 37th, tops in the majors and just 19 short of Brian Roberts’ single-season team record. … Ichiro Suzuki’s 21-game hitting streak at Camden Yards ended with an 0-for-4 performance. … Phelps, who has won his last nine starts against AL East foes, will be opposed by lefty Zach Britton on Saturday night.