Yankees nip Orioles in Labor Day slugfest

Jesus Montero hit the first two home runs of his 10, in the opener of a three-game series.

Mark Teixeira hit a solo homer for the Yankees, who have won five in a row and sit 2 1/2 games ahead of the Red Sox in the AL East. Boston lost to Toronto in extra innings on Monday.

New York starter Freddy Garcia lasted just 2 2/3 innings, allowing seven runs on nine hits. Aaron Laffey (2-1) got the win after recording the final out in the fifth and the first in the sixth.

Mark Reynolds hit a two-run homer for the Orioles, who have dropped three straight and seven of nine overall. Nick Markakis and Robert Andino hit solo homers and drove in two runs apiece.

Brian Matusz continued to struggle on the mound, giving up five runs on five hits over 1 1/3 innings. Jim Johnson (5-5) allowed three runs on four hits over three relief innings to take the loss.

Montero, playing in just his fourth game in the big leagues, led off the bottom of the fifth with the game tied at eight. Montero welcomed Johnson to the mound with a blast to right. The Venezuelan catcher was urged on by the fans to take a curtain call for his first career homer, and he did just that.

"I was dreaming of doing that before," Montero said. "I was always telling myself before, 'One day I'm going to be that guy.' It was amazing moment and an amazing feeling."

New York was still ahead 9-8 when Montero came to the plate again in the seventh. With a runner on first and one out, Montero crushed Johnson's offering over the wall in right again. Montero tipped his helmet to the fans after rounding the bases.

"We've always said that this young man can really swing the bat," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The O's made things interesting late. Boone Logan took over on the mound for the Yankees in the eighth. J.J. Hardy hit a one-out double and moved to third on Markakis' single to right. Chris Dickerson's fielding error allowed Hardy to score on the play. Markakis made it into second on a bad throw, which made him try for third too. He was tagged out and Cory Wade got the final out of the inning.

New York called upon Mariano Rivera in the ninth to secure the two-run lead. Reynolds singled, stole second and scored on Ryan Adams' two-out single to cut the gap to 11-10. Matt Angle came on as pinch-runner and pinch-hitter Nolan Reimold was hit by a pitch. A double steal put men at second and third, but Hardy struck out swinging to give Rivera his 38th save.

Markakis' solo homer in the first put the O's ahead, but New York came back with two runs in the home half. Teixeira's solo homer and Andruw Jones' RBI single made it 2-1.

The O's put a four-spot on the board in the second. With men on second and third and one out, Andino hit an RBI single. A passed ball allowed another run to score. Adams' single put men on the corners. Kyle Hudson followed with a grounder to first, and Andino beat the throw home. Hardy's run-scoring base hit made it 5-2.

The Yankees responded in a big way, plating six runs in the home second. Curtis Granderson got things going with a two-run double. Chris Jakubauskas came in for Matusz and loaded the bases. Cano crushed a 2-2 pitch over the wall in right-center field to give New York an 8-5 lead.

Reynolds cut the gap to 8-7 with a two-run homer to left in the third. Andino added a solo homer in the fifth to tie the game.

"I'm real proud of the effort, especially offensively today," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.

Game Notes

The Yankees are 12-3 against the Orioles this season. The teams will head to Camden Yards on Thursday for a makeup game from August 27...Matusz hasn't won since June 6...The Yankees are an MLB-best 38-9 in day games in 2011...Montero became the first Yankee to hit his first two home runs in the same game since Shane Spencer in 1998...Cano hit his seventh career grand slam -- and third this season.