Swisher's HR in 10th boosts Yanks
BALTIMORE -- Nick Swisher got caught holding his bat with a chance to put his team ahead in the eighth inning.
He made sure the same didn't happen in the 10th.
Swisher, struggling like much of the lineup early this season with runners in scoring position, cracked a two-out, two-run homer to lead the Yankees to a 6-4 victory over the Orioles Wednesday night at Camden Yards.
"In that spot, just trying to make contact,'' Swisher said of the full-count pitch he drove out off righthander Kevin Gregg. "I got rung up on a close call in the at-bat before, and I definitely wasn't going down without a swing on that last at-bat. I got a pitch that kind of missed over the middle of the plate, I was just lucky to get the barrel on it.''
The victory completed a three-game sweep and got the Yankees (3-3) back to .500 heading into their home opener Friday against Albert Pujols and the Angels, feeling much better about themselves than when they left Tampa 0-3.
"I think it's real important because you don't want to go home feeling like you're in a hole already,'' Joe Girardi said. "3-3 is a lot better than the alternative.''
Mariano Rivera, whom Girardi hoped to avoid using a third straight game -- the rule he generally abides by with all his relievers -- allowed a two-out single in the 10th but picked up his second save.
"They never asked me,'' Rivera said of the staff asking if he'd be fine pitching three straight days. "But I was ready.''
Girardi said it wasn't his preference but "we were in a bind.''
CC Sabathia started and lasted only six innings, giving not as much rest as Girardi had hoped for his short bullpen, one he called "beat up'' before the game.
Though considering Sabathia was at 50 pitches after two innings and 82 after four, that he went six, allowing four runs and eight hits and striking out eight, was somewhat of a victory.
"We really needed at least six from him tonight,'' Girardi said.
Of Sabathia's balloon pitch count early, Girardi said: "I'm watching it and I'm like, how are we going to get six?''
Before the game Girardi said he would be without David Phelps and Cory Wade, who threw 22/3 innings apiece in Tuesday's 12-inning victory. Girardi also said he wasn't sure about David Robertson or Rafael Soriano, who split a nail on the middle finger of his pitching hand while warming up in the seventh inning of Tuesday's game.
Soriano ended up being used Wednesday night, coming in with two outs in the eighth and ending the inning, then retiring the Orioles -- after loading the bases, the final man getting on with an intentional walk -- in the ninth.
"Once I started to pitch, I forgot all about it,'' Soriano said.
Boone Logan, Soriano and Rivera combined to throw four scoreless innings, bringing the bullpen's total to 111/3 scoreless the last two nights.
"Huge boost for us, big win,'' said Swisher, whose homer brought in Mark Teixeira, who preceded it with a bloop double down the leftfield line. "Hats off to our bullpen. Those guys deserve this one.''
Rivera said simply of the unit, "We're capable of doing that.''
And now the Yankees, after starting the season with six road games, are headed home.
"I thought our guys responded well,'' Girardi said. "Some tough circumstances, some tough games, a couple of extra-inning games. Mo bounces back and gets a couple saves for us. I thought our guys did a really nice job.''