Adam Jones' fielding error with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh inning allowed the deciding runs to score and give the New York Yankees a 5-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles in the opener of a three-game series from Yankee Stadium.
Jones couldn't handle a deep fly ball off the bat of Vernon Wells with two outs and the score tied at 2-2, with CC Sabathia and Mariano Rivera protecting the lead over the final two innings to nail down the Yankees' fourth consecutive win.
The duo was aided by a triple play from the Yankees' defense that ended an Orioles' threat in the eighth.
"It was huge," said Yankees shortstop Jayson Nix of the rare feat. "CC was trying to get through that inning and they scored on him the inning before, so it was perfect timing."
Sabathia (2-1) scattered eight hits and held the Orioles to two runs -- one earned -- while striking out nine over the first eight innings, with Rivera working a scoreless ninth for his 610th career save.
Kevin Youkilis and Robinson Cano each drove in runs for New York, with Youkilis finishing 3-for-3 on the night and Cano going 2-for-4.
Jones' miscue saddled Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez (1-1) with the loss after the right-hander was charged with permitting three runs -- two earned -- over six-plus innings of work.
Manny Machado went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Baltimore, which entered the set off a pair of wins at Boston, with J.J. Hardy also contributing a run-scoring single in defeat.
The Yankees had just one on and two out in the bottom of the seventh before Youkilis was intentionally walked and Baltimore reliever Troy Patton hit Travis Hafner with a pitch to fill the sacks. Wells followed with a drive to straightaway center that Jones was able to get a read on near the warning track, but had the ball pop out of his glove as all three runners crossed the plate to break the 2-2 deadlock.
"You could say whatever you want," Jones said. "I was there. Didn't catch it. Cost my team the game. Trust me, it's quite frustrating. Some days you're the hero, some days you're the goat."
Baltimore responded with back-to-back singles from Alexi Casilla and Nick Markakis to begin the eighth, but Sabathia got out of the jam with the help of some shaky base-running by the Orioles.
Machado hit a line drive to second that Cano scooped up on a hop and flipped to Nix at second to force Markakis. Casilla, who initially believed the ball had been caught, was then tagged out in a rundown between third and second. Machado then attempted to advance to second, but was gunned down by Lyle Overbay after the first baseman received a throw from Youkilis across the diamond.
"I should have stayed at first," said Machado. "It was just in the heat of the moment, things that you don't think about."
Baltimore had knotted the score with the help of a couple of lapses by the Yankees in the top of the seventh. Matt Wieters reached base when Youkilis misplayed his leadoff grounder to third, then took second when Sabathia was called for a balk. Two batters later, Hardy came through with a ground ball that trickled up the middle to tie the game.
Sabathia had a streak of 12 consecutive scoreless innings end after Alexi Casilla opened the bottom of the third with a double and came home on Machado's one-out single through the right side of the infield for a 1-0 Baltimore lead. The big lefty retired the next eight straight Orioles hitters, however, and the Yankees went in front with single runs in both the third and fifth frames.
After a walk to Brett Gardner and a Cano single put runners on the corners in New York's half of the third, Youkilis laced a base hit to left to pull the Yankees even.
Gonzalez walked Francisco Cervelli to lead off the bottom of the fifth and Gardner followed with a sacrifice bunt to bring up the red-hot Cano, who ripped a liner into left-center field to plate Cervelli and give the Yankees a 2-1 edge.
Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez exited after two innings after being struck on the right wrist by a Gonzalez pitch in his only plate appearance ... Youkilis has now hit safely in all nine games this season and is hitting .424 (14- for-33) over that stretch ... Jones had a nine-game hit streak snapped after going 0-for-4 ... Casilla ended 2-for-3 to increase his career batting average to .583 (14-of-24) against Sabathia ... In his last encounter with the Orioles, Sabathia tossed a complete-game four-hitter in the Yankees' 3-1 win over Baltimore in the deciding Game 5 of last October's ALDS.