BALTIMORE - Kevin Gausman has had to change roles several times throughout the season at both the major-league and minor-league levels, switching from starter to reliever numerous times.
His job Monday was to preserve the Baltimore Orioles' one-run lead in relief against the New York Yankees for a pair of innings. His first inning was perfect.
His second? Far from it.
The Orioles right-hander gave up a trio of runs without retiring a batter in the top of the eighth, as the Yankees rallied from behind to beat Baltimore 7-5 before 25,697 at Camden Yards.
New York's comeback was led by left fielder Alfonso Soriano's pair of home runs, the second of which was a two-run opposite-field shot in the eighth off Gausman that broke a 4-4 tie.
"I was the reason that it all started," Gausman said. "The floodgates opened right there. You definitely can kind of feel it take some wind out of us."
Gausman (2-5) entered his second inning with a 4-3 lead. In the seventh, he retired the side in order, ending the inning with strikeouts of Lyle Overbay and Brett Gardner.
But in the eighth, Gausman gave up a leadoff double to Alex Rodriguez, followed by an RBI single up the middle by Robinson Cano that tied the game 4-4.
"He's pitching well," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He had some good pitches. Just some balls that they were able to get their arms extended on. He continues to present himself well. Just wasn't his night."
It was the first time Gausman pitched since Sept. 4, when he gave up two runs in 2 2-3 innings against Cleveland.
The Orioles have now lost their past six games in which they've tried to move 12 games above .500.
Baltimore (77-67) had a big inning early in the game against New York (77-68) starter Ivan Nova, who pitched a three-hit shutout against the Orioles on Aug. 31. J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts led the fifth off with back-to-back singles. Then, Henry Urrutia hit an infield single on a groudball, which Yankees shortstop Eduardo Nunez threw past first baseman Mark Reynolds, allowing Hardy to score and tying the game 1-1.
Nick Markakis gave Baltimore a 2-1 lead, hitting a sacrifice fly to left that scored Roberts. New York left fielder Alfonso Soriano attempted to prevent the run, but Rodriguez cut it off early causing the catcher Stewart to throw up his arms.
Chris Davis extended the Orioles' lead to 4-1 with his 49th homer, a two-run shot to straightaway center. Only Brady Anderson has more home runs in a single season (50 in 1996) as Davis tied Frank Robinson's mark of 49 from 1966.
"We scored enough runs off them, we just couldn't shut them down there toward the end," Showalter said. "I thought our guys did a pretty good job. [Nova's] a good pitcher."
Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez kept the team in the game, giving up three runs on three hits throughout six innings, while striking out six. The right-hander gave up just one run through five but yielded a pair of solo home runs to Soriano and Mark Reynolds in the sixth.
"Just trying to keep the ball down as much as possible and change speeds to these guys, especially late in the ballgame," Gonzalez said. "I felt confident coming in. Things just didn't work out the way we wanted it to."
Adam Warren (2-2) picked up the win in relief for the Yankees, pitching a scoreless seventh inning. Mariano Rivera picked up a four-out save, retiring all four batters he faced for his 42nd save.
It was Rivera's 77th career save against Baltimore, the most he has against any club during his 19-year career.
Had the Orioles won, they would've gained some ground in the race for the second AL Wild Card, as both the Indians and Rays lost. Instead, Baltimore remains 1.5 games behind Tampa Bay, while the Yankees sit two back.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado said the team can't get caught up in scoreboard watching and instead try to control the only thing they can, which is their own games.
"We're going to keep playing baseball," Machado said. "We're not going to worry about anybody else. If they win, they win. If they don't, we're going to keep playing our baseball, which is the Oriole way."