NEW YORK -- The Baltimore Orioles have loved New York in recent seasons, but it wasn't good to them this time.
They rolled into Yankee Stadium Monday with a five-game winning streak and limped out with a two-game losing streak after succumbing last night, 4-2, in the rubber match of a three-game series.
With the triumph before 17,544, the Yankees won the season series, 7-6.
But there were some moments to savor for the Orioles, including the 20th home run by Cal Ripken and a respectable effort by Jeff Ballard in his first start since July 16.
Ballard absorbed his 11th loss of a lost season after allowing three runs (two earned) in 5 1/3 innings. But he said he thought he pitched well, a good carry-over sign for 1991.
"It was fun to be out there as a starter again," he said. "I'm pleased with what I did. It's been a long time since I've been out there that long and threw that many pitches ."
Manager Frank Robinson removed him with runners on second and third with one out in the sixth. Jose Bautista walked the bases loaded (his first walk in 13 appearances), and Randy Velarde knocked in the third Yankees run with a grounder.
That saddled Ballard with the defeat, making him 1-10 as a starter this year.
"He did a good job," said Robinson, "but I felt like it was time for him to come out. He hadn't been stretched out lately."
Ballard said: "I could have gone nine innings if he left me in there. I'm not saying what the results would be, though. The thing I liked is that my control wasn't that good and my stuff wasn't that good, but I made pitches when I had to."
With a six-inning shot off winner Chuck Cary, Ripken joined Dale Murphy as the only two major-leaguers to hit 20 homers in each of the past nine seasons.
Only 12 players in history have hit 20 or more in each of their first nine full years, the latest Eddie Murray with the Orioles (1977-85).
The others are Billy Williams, Eddie Mathews, Ralph Kiner, Reggie Jackson, Robinson, Rocky Colavito, Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, Bob Johnson and Dick Allen.
But it wasn't enough to spark a comeback by the Orioles, who have not won a series on the road since July 27-29 (in Kansas City, Mo.).
The Orioles pulled to within 3-2 in the seventh on a one-out double by Bob Melvin and run-scoring single by Steve Finley and continued to threaten when Bill Ripken reached base on an infield single against reliever Jeff Robinson.
But Robinson struck out Leo Gomez after a lengthy argument between Yankees manager Stump Merrill and the umpires over a ball Gomez had fouled off at the plate. The strikeout made the debate academic.
Cary had to leave the game in the inning after tearing the fingernail on the middle finger of his left hand.
"It's not just him [Cary]," said Robinson. "Almost any time a left-hander goes out there, we don't generate any offense."
The Orioles had won eight of their previous 12 in New York and were seeking consecutive series victories over the Yankees for the first time since 1982.
But the Yankees went ahead to stay with a two-run rally against JTC Ballard in the fourth that Balboni launched with his 17th home run and 15th with the bases empty.
Gomez's errant throw on Barfield's grounder pulled David Segui off the bag and set up the second run, which Jim Leyritz drove across with a double to right field.
The Orioles never caught up and headed to their final road series at Cleveland.
Then the Toronto Blue Jays come to Baltimore to end the season in what may be a crucial series in the American League East title race.
That series will not be a showdown for the flag this year. The Orioles squandered that opportunity long ago.