NEW YORK - The Baltimore Orioles bullpen has been one of the most accomplished parts of a vastly overachieving club. Prior to Saturday, the bullpen had been the key reason for its string of 13 consecutive one-run wins.
Seemingly on their way to another big win over the New York Yankees, Pedro Strop allowed two key walks in the seventh inning as the Orioles lost to New York 4-3 before 46,122 at Yankee Stadium.
The loss dropped the Orioles (73-59) to three games behind the Yankees(76-56) in the AL East.
With a 3-2 lead, Strop relieved Wei-Yin Chen (12-8) in the seventh. Strop walked Ichiro Suzuki and Derek Jeter. On a 3-2 pitch, Strop groaned loudly as Jayson Nix scored with the tying run. Nick Swisher grounded to J.J. Hardy at short, but Hardy couldn't handle it for an error, and a 4-3 lead.
"Everything just happened quick," Strop said. "I didn't bring the stuff I usually bring command-wise."
Strop has walked 29 batters in 58 innings, but he thought he could have had Jeter.
"It was a pretty close pitch," Strop said.
Chen allowed just two hits in the first six innings, Robinson Cano's fourth-inning home run and Swisher's sixth-inning single.
In the seventh, he allowed a one-out single to Steve Pearce and walked Nix with two outs. After Eduardo Nunez drove in Pearce, manager Buck Showalter got Chen.
"In the seventh inning, I didn't want them to hit a fly ball on me because they hit a lot of fly balls today," Chen said through his translator.
"I just wanted to keep the ball down, but obviously too low for the umpire."
Chen, who allowed four runs, one of them unearned on four hits in 6 2-3 innings, certainly pitched well enough to win, but his offense failed to capitalize on countless early opportunities.
New York starter David Phelps gave up six walks and hit a batter in 4 2-3 innings. He also allowed three hits, but the Orioles hit into three double plays.
Showalter gave Chen a pass, saying he'd pitched his best and said Hardy's error was a hard one to call.
"That time of the day, the infield's so chewed up, it's partly our fault because we had a bunch of baserunners out there chewing it up," Showalter said.
The Orioles were just 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.
They scored the game's first run off Phelps when Nate McLouth hit into a first-inning double play and Markakis scored. Manny Machado's second-inning single scored Chris Davis with the seocn run, but Markakis' double-play grounder short-circuited the inning.
Matt Wieters led off the fourth with his 18th home run of the season for a 3-0 lead, but the Orioles had one more hit the rest of the game.
Phelps walked Markakis and McLouth in the fifth, but Adam Jones flied to left to end the inning.
"We didn't stretch out the lead when we had the chance and when you give these guys some hope and some life, they're going to put some hits together," Wieters said.
Boone Logan (6-2) pitched two scoreless innings for the win. Rafael Soriano threw a perfect ninth for his 35th save.
NOTES: The Orioles' string of 13 straight one-run games was the longest since Toronto won 19 straight in the 1984 season, according to Elias. ... Wilson Betemit, who was activated before the game, pinch hit in the ninth inning. ... Wieters has hit in 13 straight games this season against the Yankees, the first Oriole to do that since Cal Ripken in 1996. ... Xavier Avery, Luis Exposito and Steve Tolleson were officially recalled before the game from Triple-A Norfolk.