BALTIMORE - Orioles center fielder Adam Jones says he has often asked longtime team trainer Richie Bancells how loud the fans used to get at Camden Yards during the 1990s.
He found out in the eighth inning on Thursday after hitting a tiebreaking home run that helped the Orioles beat the New York Yankees 10-6 in front of 46,298 supercharged fans.
"After I hit the home run, he came up to me and said, 'that's how loud,'" Jones said after the game.
It was one of six homers on the night for Baltimore, including three in the eighth inning immediately after the Orioles' bullpen squandered a five-run lead, and it allowed the Orioles (77-60) to move back into a tie with New York for first place in the AL East.
The final out of what Jones called "by far" the biggest win of the season came on a strikeout as nearly every fan in the park stood and cheered. It was the last of several standing ovations for a team that has had precious few of them in recent years, and the park that has often been taken over by fans of the other team when the Orioles play the Yankees was a sea of Orioles' orange.
Jones said Camden Yards looked like a tangerine and Orioles manager Showalter took note of the atmosphere.
"Great. We couldn't ask for better. A special environment," said Showalter. "We really appreciated it [and] it helped. A real difference-maker for us."
The red-hot Mark Reynolds hit two of the home runs and has eight in his past seven games. He is batting .423 with 16 RBIs over that span. Reynolds told reporters before the game his hot streak is all about confidence.
"I'll agree with whatever Mark's saying right now," Showalter said. "Obviously Mark's in a good place offensively right now."
Speaking in a pregame ceremony Thursday, Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. noted that being an Oriole meant playing meaningful games in September. That hadn't exactly been the case for quite some time.
In their first significant game this late in a season since 1997, beginning a seven-game homestand that is arguably the biggest in the history of Camden Yards, the Orioles jumped out to a 4-0 advantage and had a 6-1 lead entering the eighth, when they suddenly began to resemble the under-.500 team that inhabited this park from 1998-2011 as four walks helped the Yankees score five runs to tie the game and silence the crowd.
No problem. The Orioles returned to 2012 form immediately.
One pitch after Yankees reliever David Robertson (1-6) threw a ball over his head, Jones responded with a no-doubt-about-it blast to left-center, his 28th of the season.
"That's the biggest hit I've ever had in my life," Jones said.
Matt Wieters, who had smacked a three-run homer of his own in the first inning, followed with a single and then Reynolds hit a towering shot to left-center, his 20th of the season.
Davis finished the scoring with a shot to the flag court in right, giving Baltimore a four-run cushion that was plenty for Jim Johnson, who pitched a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation to make a winner of Darren O'Day (7-1).
Jason Hammel pitched five strong innings of one-run ball in his first start in nearly two months, following knee surgery. He shook off a Robinson Cano line drive that smacked his elbow and was in line for the win until the Yankees' eighth-inning uprising.
The Orioles gave him a four-run lead in the first after J.J. Hardy sliced a one-out single to right against Yankees starter David Phelps to get things started and Nate McLouth followed with a single up the middle. Phelps balked the runners up one base and then Jones lined an RBI single to center.
On the next pitch, Wieters went out over the plate and sent a towering, opposite-field shot to left that barely eluded the glove of left fielder Raul Ibanez into the first row of seats to make it 4-0.
The Yankees got one back in the fourth but Robert Andino answered with a solo homer in the bottom of the inning. Reynolds went deep in the sixth to make it 6-1 and the Orioles were cruising behind reliever Randy Wolf.
But New York rallied in the eighth when Wolf gave up a one-out walk to Nick Swisher, a run-scoring double to Alex Rodriguez, and then walked Eric Chavez. Pedro Strop came on and provided no relief, giving up an RBI single to Curtis Granderson, consecutive walks and then a two-run single to Ichiro Suzuki. He walked off the mound to boos, but O'Day came on and retired Derek Jeter to end the inning and set up Baltimore's heroics in the bottom of the eighth.
"I think everybody in that dugout knew they were going to make a run at us," Showalter said. "It's just kind of how you respond to it. I was real proud of them, obviously."