NEW YORK (AP) — Joba Chamberlain parked his 240-pound frame in front of home plate and waited for Russell Martin’s toss from near the backstop. Felix Pie, at a lithe 185 pounds, tried to twist around the Yankees reliever for an insurance run.
No chance. The big Nebraskan wouldn’t budge.
Chamberlain’s block of the plate in the eighth kept the Yankees within a run of the Orioles, and New York’s bats did the rest to complete a comeback from five runs down to beat Baltimore 6-5 in 10 innings Thursday night to sweep the rain-shortened series.
“That was just Joba getting in the way,” Martin said. “Joba’s going to win that every time.”
Nick Swisher hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th off Michael Gonzalez (0-1) to earn the season’s first pie in the face for a game-ending hit, and Jorge Posada tied it in the ninth with his fifth homer of the season off Orioles closer Kevin Gregg.
Gonzalez walked Mark Teixeira and gave up a double to Alex Rodriguez to start the 10th. After Robinson Cano lined out to a drawn-in shortstop, Swisher hit a fly and Teixeira easily beat right fielder Nick Markakis’ throw home.
“Our guys kept kinda chippin’ away, and then we get the big homer from Jorge in the ninth and then the walk to Tex and the double by Alex to start the inning off,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. “But our guys have the ability to do that.”
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.
Chamberlain relieved Bartolo Colon in the eighth inning with runners on first and third. Chamberlain threw a pitch in the dirt that went to the backstop, and the ball took a long bounce off the wall as Martin went to retrieve it.
Martin made an easy toss to Chamberlain, who turned sideways and shielded Pie, a pinch-runner, 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 Jake Arrieta and handed the Orioles their fourth straight loss after a 6-1 start. 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.”
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.
The win ended a more than 10-hour day of big league baseball in New York. The Mets were swept by Colorado in a doubleheader at Citi Field that started at 12:20 p.m. and ended just after this game started.
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. 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.
“I don’t have the magic potion or the answers. Hopefully it will work itself out,” Hughes said. “I’m really proud of the guys, battling back after really digging us a hole there.”
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.
Arrieta came in 2-0 with a 3.65 ERA against the Yankees. He bounced back from his last start, when he took a pounding from the potent Texas Rangers (3 1-3 innings, eight runs). Arrieta gave up three runs and five hits.
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.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)