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BALTIMORE - Tommy Hunter came out for the ninth inning, his second frame of relief, in a tie game Wednesday night.
The ninth inning didn't pan out quite like the eighth for the Baltimore Orioles reliever.
Hunter's fastballs were popping as usual, in the high 90s, but his breaking ball looked tasty to leadoff batter Robinson Cano. And the New York second baseman knocked one over the fence in right-center field, which broke the tie and led the Yankees past the Orioles 5-4 in front of 20,141 at Camden Yards.
New York (78-68) leapfrogged Baltimore in the wild-card chase, with the Yankees moving to within 1.5 games of the second spot. Baltimore (77-68) and Cleveland are two games behind with the regular season winding down.
"There's a lot of baseball left," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "Tonight was a tough night for us, like last night, but these guys will turn the page and compete their rears off [Thursday].
"Anybody that would want to close the door on us would be making a mistake."
Perhaps the largest mistake Wednesday came from Hunter, who eschewed his heater for an off-speed pitch trying to fool Cano to open the ninth. The all-star would have none of it, however, and jolted his 27th home run of the season.
"I was trying to throw a changeup that he swung and missed [at], and I didn't do that. He didn't miss it," said Hunter, who fell to 4-4. "It's always tough to lose. It's always tough to be the guy to give it up, but he hit it. He had to hit it, so he did. It's tough to say tip your cap, but sometimes you got to do it."
Curtis Granderson, who homered to lead off the fifth inning against Orioles starter Scott Feldman, tripled with one out following Cano's blast and scored on an infield single by Lyle Overbay to pad the Yanks' lead.
New York turned things over to closer Mariano Rivera, who gave up a two-out double to Nate McLouth and a RBI single to Brian Roberts. But Rivera struck out Manny Machado to end it, and notched his 43rd save of the year.
"We control our own destiny, we control our situation," said center field Adam Jones, who went 0 for 4 at the plate and tried in vain to run down Granderson's triple to deep center in the ninth. "The rest of the way we're playing against teams that are in the same situation as us, so we've got to play better baseball."
Alex Rodriguez's solo homer to right-center - the 653rd of his career - with two outs in the sixth tied the game at 3-3 and kept Feldman from a chance at victory. The Orioles' right-hander pitched 7 2-3 innings and struck out six, but two of his three hits allowed went for homers.
J.J. Hardy's RBI double to the gap in right-center gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning and had Yankees starter Andy Pettitte on the verge of exiting, but the veteran left-hander survived the inning when he struck out Roberts with runners on the corners and two outs.
Shawn Kelley, David Robertson (5-1), and Rivera picked up for Pettitte, who went 6 1-3 innings and scattered nine hits.
Chris Davis beat the Yankees' defensive shift and doubled to right with two outs in the third, allowing Roberts and Machado to come home. The double was Davis' 40th, making him the first player in Orioles history to have at least 40 doubles and 40 home runs in a season.
The Yankees scored in the first inning without getting a hit. Brett Gardner led off with a walk, stole second, and came around on a pair of groundouts to shortstop.
But Feldman retired 12 in a row from there, until Granderson led off the fifth with his fifth home run of the season that made it 3-2.
The lead lasted until the sixth, when Rodriguez went deep, and things fell apart for Baltimore in the ninth.
"I think that everybody is trying their best out there, and tonight it didn't work out, but we have a chance to split the series," Feldman said. "I think we're still in striking distance obviously, so just keep our heads high and try to go out there tomorrow and split the series."
NOTE: Bud Norris has been scratched from his scheduled start Friday in Toronto with soreness in his pitching elbow, and Showalter said he's going with Jason Hammel in Norris' place.

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