Brendan Ryan scored the tiebreaking run in the ninth inning on a wild pitch by Jim Johnson, and New York defeated the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 Thursday night after blowing a four-run lead.
Mark Reynolds and Curtis Granderson homered for the Yankees, who remained one game behind Tampa Bay for the second AL wild card. After taking three of four from Baltimore, New York travels next to first-place Boston for a weekend series between division rivals.
"It's important," manager Joe Girardi said. "We need to continue to win and we need to continue to take series if we want to play in October."
The Yankees (79-68) moved within one game of their high-water mark for the season, 12 games over .500, which last occurred in May. But the victory was marred by another injury, this one to leadoff hitter Brett Gardner, who left in the first inning with a strained muscle on his left side.
"I've never had an oblique issue before," Gardner said. "The best thing to do is just wait until (Friday) and see what the MRI says. That'll paint a much clearer picture."
New York led 5-1 before Nick Markakis hit a solo shot in the seventh and Danny Valencia homered with two on against David Robertson in the eighth.
But the Yankees bounced right back in the ninth with an unearned run against Johnson (3-8). Ryan, obtained in a trade with Seattle on Tuesday, led off with a single. Chris Stewart bunted, and Johnson threw wildly into center field for an error that left two on.
"The ball slipped, and that kind of started the whole inning," Johnson said.
After another bunt put the runners at second and third, Johnson uncorked a pitch that didn't reach the plate and bounced to the backstop.
Mariano Rivera (6-2) got straight three outs in the bottom half and was given credit for the win by the official scorer because Robertson was ineffective in the eighth.
The start was delayed by rain for 1 hour, 18 minutes.
After defeating New York in the opener of the four-game series Monday night, the Orioles needed to win only one of the next three to capture the season series for the first time since 1997. Instead, the Yankees emerged with a 10-9 edge in 2013.
Baltimore trails New York and Cleveland in the wild-card chase and fell into a tie with idle Kansas City, 2 games behind the Rays. The Orioles begin their final road trip of the season — to Toronto, Boston and Tampa Bay — on Friday.
"We've just got to start rattling off some wins," first baseman Chris Davis said. "This is definitely going to be a big road trip."
Reynolds put the Yankees up 2-0 in the second with a drive to left after Eduardo Nunez hit a leadoff single. It was Reynolds' fourth homer in 22 games since joining New York in mid-August.
Sixty of Reynolds' 200 career home runs came with the Orioles, from 2011-12.
Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen allowed eight of his first 14 batters to reach base. In the third, after Alfonso Soriano sandwiched a double between two walks, Vernon Wells delivered a two-run single.
In the bottom half, Baltimore used an RBI single by Manny Machado to close to 4-1.
Granderson, who replaced Gardner in center field, chased Chen with his second homer in two games and New York's 10th in the four-game series.
Markakis homered off David Huff in the bottom half. Huff was originally supposed to start the game, but Girardi figured the left-hander would be more comfortable coming out of the bullpen. Phil Hughes started and left in the fourth.
In the Orioles eighth, Soriano made a leaping grab at the left-field wall to rob Machado of a home run and keep New York's lead at 5-2. But with two outs, Adam Jones and Markakis singled before Valencia ripped Robertson's first pitch over the left-field wall.
NOTES:The Orioles will be without reliever Darren O'Day during the weekend series in Toronto that begins Friday. O'Day has been dealing with soreness in his fingers and has pitched only twice this month. ... Jason Hammel will start Friday night for Baltimore. He replaces Bud Norris, who has been experiencing elbow discomfort. ... The Orioles honored Rivera before his final game at Camden Yards. The 43-year-old closer received a gift and a standing ovation. Rivera, meanwhile, has donated the baseball he used to record his major league-record 602nd save to the Police Athletic League for auction. ... New York hopes to have C Austin Romine (concussion) back during the weekend series in Boston. "Headache's gone. Neck's not sore," said Romine, who sustained the injury Tuesday night. ... Baltimore has won a season series from New York only once since 1982.