NEW YORK - A year ago, saves were routine for Jim Johnson. This year, they're anything but.
On Friday night, Johnson came into the game with a one-run lead, and a little while later walked off with his sixth blown save and seventh loss.
The New York Yankees scored two runs off Johnson in the ninth and escaped with a 3-2 win over the Baltimore Orioles before 43,396 at Yankee Stadium.
In the bottom of the ninth with the Orioles (48-39) leading 2-1, Johnson (2-7) allowed a leadoff single to David Adams, then bobbled Brett Gardner's bunt attempt for an error. Ichiro Suzuki bunted both runners over. Robinson Cano was walked intentionally to load the bases. Then, Johnson walked Travis Hafner to force home Adams, and Vernon Wells singled to score Gardner.
"The thing that really changed it was me screwing up the whole bunt. Trying to do too many things at once instead of just taking the out and then I screw the whole play up, and that kind of escalates the situation," Johnson said.
"I thought I could have probably caught it and then it was kind of like in between and then I was still thinking I could have gone to second to get the lead runner. And then I just screwed the whole thing up. Usually I'm a pretty good fielder. Well, usually I am. I take pride in what I do out there, and obviously that kind of didn't really help the situation."
Johnson has saved 29 games, but his six blown saves are double the number of a year ago.
Manager Buck Showalter won't publicly criticize his closer or say that's he's contemplating a change, but said the offense which got only three hits off Ivan Nova (3-2), was partially to blame.
"I'm concerned about the way that we swung the bats tonight. There's a lot of factors that go into it. We've got some guys who can't pitch every day and some guys can. Certain things will work themselves out," Showalter said.
Baltimore struck out 11 times against Nova, who pitched his first career complete game. In their last two losses, they've fanned 24 times.
Matt Wieters' 11th home run of the year in the second inning gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead in the second.
New York (47-39) scored a run off Miguel Gonzalez in the fifth on an RBI single by Luis Cruz. Gonzalez allowed one run on four hits in six innings, walking five and striking out four.
NOTES: Wei-Yin Chen threw seven scoreless innings for Bowie against Harrisburg on Thursday night. He allowed four singles, struck out three and walked none. It was his second rehab start.
Chen says he's ready to return to the Orioles rotation. Showalter said that he'll decide the left-hander's immediate future this weekend after he throws a bullpen session.
"I'm definitely ready to pitch for my next start, same approach to every game. Like last outing, I'm ready to pitch, but if they want to be safe, to pitch one more rehab game, I just do down there and get the job done. Right now, I'm coming back ready to [do] the job again," Chen said through his interpreter.
Chen hasn't pitched since May 12 when he strained a left oblique muscle.
ALL-STARS: On Saturday night, the Orioles will find out how many representatives on the American League All-Star team they have. Chris Davis, J.J. Hardy and Adam Jones were leading at their positions in the balloting released on Monday.
As many as five additional Orioles, Johnson, Manny Machado, Nick Markakis, Chris Tillman and Wieters could make the team.
Showalter isn't sure that having multiple All-Stars helps the team.
"Does it help us win more games? No. So that's kind of ... the way I'd look at it. But more than anything I'd like to see them get rewarded and realize there is recognition for what they are doing," Showalter said.
"I tell you the fans have done a pretty good job of this. It'd be hard to argue with a lot of their picks. I'm sure somebody could and will and that's part of it too. I did my balloting, over and over."
The game will be played at New York's Citi Field on July 16.