Yankees walk off with a win

Crosby hits 1st HR of year in 9th to sink O's

N.Y. pulls within half game of Boston

Yankees 3, Orioles 2

September 20, 2005|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,Sun reporter

NEW YORK -- Orioles pitcher Erik Bedard made his major league debut at Yankee Stadium on April 17, 2002. It only seems that long since he last won a game.

Stuck on one victory since the All-Star break, Bedard worked at his usual slow pace last night. Sand passed through the hourglass one grain at a time as players fidgeted behind him. Maybe he wanted to savor an early lead, knowing how easily it could vanish, just like the magical touch he once displayed.

With Bedard sitting in the dugout, Bubba Crosby led off the ninth inning by hitting his first home run of the season, ripping a breaking ball from Eric DuBose into the right-field seats to give the New York Yankees a 3-2 win over the Orioles before a crowd of 51,521.

Crosby attacked the second pitch from DuBose (1-3), who hadn't allowed a run in his past six appearances and was facing his final batter. Interim manager Sam Perlozzo planned on using Todd Williams to face Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez, but he never got the chance.

"I expected them to throw a pinch hitter up there," Perlozzo said. "He was trying to go down and away and left it up. He made one bad pitch."

A pitch that was delivered to a player who batted ninth and had four RBIs before last night.

"I thought they'd send [Ruben] Sierra up there and try to win the ballgame with a homer," Perlozzo said. "You're just guessing along."

Coming off three games against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays that didn't attract much interest in Baltimore, the Orioles (70-79) were thrust into the middle of a pennant race, playing before fans who were both plentiful and loud. Unfortunately, they weren't the only team that fed off the atmosphere.

"We know they're going to be energized," Perlozzo said of the Yankees, "so that's not good."

They sprang to life in the fifth, loading the bases with no outs and getting four straight singles before Bedard retired a batter. Down 2-0 when the inning began, they scored twice to tie the game, and Bedard was gone after the sixth with his pitch count at 104.

"I just battled whenever I could," Bedard said.

DuBose, who left without speaking to reporters, allowed the Yankees to creep within a half game of the first-place Boston Red Sox, the closest they've been since July 26. He retired the first four batters he faced after replacing Aaron Rakers.

"He kept us in the ballgame," Perlozzo said. "You can't ask for much better than he did."

Earlier in the day, Perlozzo conducted the standard pre-game meeting to review a new opponent. He didn't broach Sunday's topic, when he called together his players after a 6-5 loss and stressed how he wouldn't tolerate certain mistakes.

Perlozzo still hasn't met with majority owner Peter Angelos to discuss whether he'll have the interim tag removed next season. He's 19-23 since replacing Lee Mazzilli on Aug. 4.

"We're trying to win as many games as we possibly can," Perlozzo said. "If it turns out that we didn't win enough games to keep me, then I can at least walk away saying we tried to win as many games as we could."

It wouldn't hurt Perlozzo's cause to have Bedard return to his earlier form.

Bedard hasn't won since Aug. 9, going eight starts without a victory. He was 5-1 with a 2.08 ERA in the first half, and 1-6 with a 5.20 ERA in the second.

"I thought he threw a little better tonight than he has been," Perlozzo said. "He battled really well. He always does."

The Yankees threatened in the second inning after Bedard walked two batters, but he struck out Robinson Cano on a 94-mph fastball. They loaded the bases with one out in the third, the ball never leaving the infield, but Gary Sheffield grounded into a double play.

Chien-Ming Wang, making his third start for the Yankees since coming off the disabled list, went eight innings before Mariano Rivera replaced him. He fell behind 1-0 in the first on two-out singles by Melvin Mora, Tejada and Jay Gibbons. Brian Roberts led off the third with a single and later scored on Tejada's grounder to the right side.

Wang had nine assists, two short of the major league record for pitchers.

"The guys were coming back in there saying how much his ball was sinking," Perlozzo said. "We were almost to the point of going out there and checking him. He just had an excellent sinker."

Crosby had one superb swing after twice reaching on infield hits.

"I never hit a walk-off home run in my whole life, not even Little League," he said. "To do it at Yankee Stadium this time of year, it just doesn't get any better than this."

"A homer," Perlozzo said, "was the last thing I thought would happen."

roch.kubatko@baltsun.com

Orioles @ Yankees

Tonight, 7:05, Comcast SportsNet, 1090 AM Starters: Orioles' John Maine (2-1, 3.27) vs. Yankees' Aaron Small (8-0, 3.28)

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