Bronx, NY – Adam Jones belted a two-run homer off fellow AL All-Star Mariano Rivera in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Baltimore Orioles to a 2-1 road victory over the New York Yankees.
The Orioles were two outs away from being dealt a three-game sweep at the hands of their division rivals when Nick Markakis singled to put the tying run on base. Jones then swatted a second-pitch cutter from Rivera (1-2) into the visiting bullpen to hand the legendary closer only his second blown save in 31 chances this season.
Darren O'Day (5-0) received the win after retiring both batters he faced in the bottom of the eighth, while Jim Johnson bounced back from a blown save in Friday's opener to strike out two during a perfect bottom of the inning and close things out.
"It's off the greatest closer in the history of the game. I'll always remember it," said Jones.
Markakis finished 3-for-4 for Baltimore, which wrapped up a six-game road trip at 2-4 after taking all three meetings with the Yankees at Camden Yards the previous weekend.
New York had ripped off a season-best six wins in a row following that sweep, and appeared in line for a seventh after Hiroki Kuroda held the Orioles to three hits over seven scoreless innings and David Robertson tossed a 1-2-3 eighth to hand Rivera a 1-0 lead.
"The way Hiroki was pitching, I mean, he was doing outstanding," said Rivera. "He did great. This would have been a great game to save, and I didn't."
Kuroda showed no ill effects from a sore left hip flexor that pushed his originally scheduled assignment on Friday back a couple of days, as the veteran righty set down 15-of-17 batters faced from the third through seventh innings before giving way to Robertson. His only hit allowed over that stretch was a leadoff double by Markakis in the fourth, but the Baltimore outfielder was left stranded when Kuroda got the next three hitters to ground out.
Rivera nearly coughed up the lead when Markakis came within inches of a homer to right with one out in the ninth, before taking the next pitch up the middle for a single. Jones followed with a no-doubt blast to left center that put the Orioles in front before Johnson shut the door in New York's half for his MLB- leading 30th save.
"I wanted the ball more in," said Rivera of Jones' homer. "It didn't get in enough."
Jason Hammel was able to keep the Orioles in the game despite laboring through 102 pitches over his five-inning stint, during which he permitted one run on six hits and a pair of walks. His only real trouble came in the second, when Zoilo Almonte grinded out an 11-pitch walk to start the bottom of the frame and Lyle Overbay shot a single through the right side to send the rookie to third.
The right-hander got Luis Cruz to pop up harmlessly to right, but Eduardo Nunez delivered a fly ball deep enough to enable Almonte to come home with the game's first run.
New York managed just one baserunner, a walk by Chris Stewart in the seventh, against the relief combo of T.J. McFarland, Troy Patton, O'Day and Johnson over the final four innings.
Yankees outfielder Brett Gardner tied a dubious club record by striking out in a 15th consecutive game when Hammel fanned him in the second inning ... Hammel is now winless in seven straight starts, registering three losses and four no- decisions, since besting Washington on May 27 ... New York fell to 13-25 this season in games in which it has failed to homer ... The Yanks held "Newtown Day" at the Stadium in honor of the victims of last December's shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT, with approximately 4,000 residents of the town in attendance as guests of the team.