Bronx, NY – Cliff Pennington's RBI single in the sixth inning proved to be the difference, as the Oakland Athletics avoided a three-game sweep at Yankee Stadium with a 5-4 win over New York.
Pennington also belted a two-run homer for the Athletics, who bounced back from a pair of extra-inning losses in the first two games of the series and won for just the second time in their last seven games. Oakland moved within one game of Baltimore for the top AL wild card spot, as the Orioles dropped a 2-1 decision in Boston.
The Yankees had a seven-game winning streak stopped and remained one game ahead of the Orioles for the lead in the AL East. New York went 7-2 on a nine- game homestand and opens a seven-game road trip Monday in Minnesota.
Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer in defeat. Hiroki Kuroda (14-11) lost for the first time in four starts, yielding five runs -- four earned -- on seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.
"It's a disappointing loss, but you move on and prepare for tomorrow," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi.
Oakland snapped a 4-4 tie in the sixth thanks to some shoddy Yankee fielding. Josh Donaldson reached on a one-out throwing error by shortstop Eduardo Nunez and scored on a two-out single to left by Pennington.
The Yankees, who left two aboard in the bottom half when Ichiro Suzuki grounded to short, stranded a runner in each of the next two innings before Grant Balfour set down the side in order in the ninth for his 20th save. Alex Rodriguez nearly tied the game for the Yankees in the final inning, but his one-out fly ball was caught just in front of the right field wall by Josh Reddick.
A.J. Griffin went the first 4 1/3 innings for Oakland and was tagged for four runs on seven hits and three walks with four strikeouts. Jerry Blevins (5-1) picked up the win with 1 1/3 scoreless innings.
The Athletics picked up a gift run in the first. After loading the bases on a Stephen Drew leadoff single, a two-out double from Brandon Moss and a walk to Jonny Gomes, Kuroda uncorked a wild pitch to score Drew before Reddick flied to left.
A disputed call at first in the second also helped Oakland. Donaldson reached on an infield single, although the throw from Nunez at short appeared to be in time, and Pennington connected for his sixth homer of the season two batters later to make it 3-0.
The Yankees were unable to do anything with leadoff walks in the first two innings and also stranded a Derek Jeter two-out single in the third, then finally answered with four in the fourth.
Swisher followed Robinson Cano's one-out base hit with a blast into the second deck in right field for his 22nd homer of the season. Curtis Granderson then singled, took second on an infield base hit by Russell Martin and scored on a double down the right field line by Raul Ibanez. Nunez's grounder to second chased home Martin to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead.
The Athletics tied it in the fifth on a run-scoring single by Yoenis Cespedes with one out, but Kuroda kept the go-ahead run at third with a strikeout of Moss before Gomes bounced to third.
"I was trying to hit corners and got behind in the count," said Kuroda about his outing.
Jeter was 2-for-4 and extended his hitting streak to 17 games ... Reddick went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 24 at-bats ... The Yankees left nine on base and went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position ... The teams split the 10-game season series ... The Athletics selected the contract of pitcher Jeremy Accardo from Triple-A Sacramento and transferred infielder Brandon Inge to the 60-day disabled list. Inge underwent arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder last week.