Orioles bullpen can't hold late lead against Yanks
NEW YORK – Orioles closer Kevin Gregg needed one pitch to blow a lead. Michael Gonzalez faced four batters and lost the game.
Baltimore's bullpen wasted a solid effort by Jake Arrieta and the Orioles lost their fourth in a row after opening a five-run lead, 6-5 to the New York Yankees in 10 innings Thursday night.
"Basically got ambushed. Didn't make a good pitch," Gregg said of Jorge Posada's tying home run leading off the ninth.
Gonzalez (0-1) came on in the 10th and walked Mark Teixeira and gave up a double to Alex Rodriguez to start the inning. After Robinson Cano lined out to a drawn-in shortstop, Swisher hit a fly and Teixeira easily beat right fielder Nick Markakis' throw home.
"It always kills you. That leadoff walk," Gonzalez said. "Obviously it kind of set the tone."
Mariano Rivera (1-0) gave up a leadoff single in the 10th, but Derrek Lee grounded into a double play and Vladimir Guerrero grounded out.
The Orioles had a chance to build on their 5-4 lead in the eighth, but pinch-runner Felix Pie was cut down by Joba Chamberlain trying to scored on a wild pitch that went to the backstop.
Chamberlain relieved Bartolo Colon in the eighth with runners on first and third. The big right-hander threw a pitch in the dirt that took a long bounce off the backstop as catcher Russell Martin went to retrieve it.
Martin tossed the ball to Chamberlain, who turned sideways and shielded Pie from reaching the plate. Pie made a standup slide rather than going all the way down and thought he was safe. Orioles manager Buck Showalter came out to argue, but replays clearly showed Chamberlain made the tag in time.
"I knew the ball come back quick. I tried to change my position for putting my hand" on the plate, Pie said. "It doesn't matter if he's big ... That's part of the game. I'm not scared."
Gregg's meltdown spoiled a solid six-inning effort by Arrieta and dropped the Orioles out of first place in the AL East for the first time this season. Baltimore built its early lead against Phil Hughes, who struggled once again.
"We're not going to dwell in self-pity," Showalter said. "We pitched well and did a lot of good things out there tonight. We just have to keep grinding and move on."
Arrieta came in 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA against the Yankees. He bounced back smartly from his last start, when he took a pounding from the potent Texas Rangers (3 1-3 innings, eight runs).
Arrieta faced the minimum through four innings Thursday — with help from a double play in the second after a walk.
Rodriguez, who went 3 for 3, doubled in the fifth for New York's first hit against Arrieta and Cano followed with a double to pull New York to 5-1.
Teixeira hit an RBI double and Rodriguez added a sacrifice fly in the sixth. Martin had a run-scoring grounder off reliever Jason Berken in the seventh to make it a one-run game.
Struggling with low velocity on his fastball, Hughes lasted just 4 1-3 innings after going only two innings against Boston in his last start and four in his first start of the season.
He reached 92 mph twice in the first inning but was throwing consistently in the 88-89 mph range after the second. Manager Joe Girardi said location was more important than speed. On Markakis' two-run homer in the third, the pitch — an 86 mph cutter — was way off Martin's target.
In the fourth, Luke Scott doubled and scored on Mark Reynolds' drive that Curtis Granderson caught leaping into the wall in right-center for a 3-0 lead.
Swisher crashed into the wall in right field catching a flyball in the fourth, one batter before Markakis lined an RBI double to right, ending Hughes' night.
Colon relieved and gave up an RBI single to Guerrero for a 5-0 lead.
NOTES: Kevin Millwood, who signed a minor league deal with New York on March 25, is scheduled to pitch for Double-A Trenton on Sunday. ... The Orioles have lost 20 of 24 games in the Bronx since July 30, 2008.