BALTIMORE -- It was the kind of rally that weeks later might have been recalled as season-defining.
A Camden Yards sellout crowd of 46,298 that had rocked like October 1997 was mostly silent, making the cheers from the suddenly electric Yankees dugout audible.
But a thrilling victory, at least for the Yankees, was not to be.
David Robertson allowed a leadoff homer to Adam Jones in the bottom of the eighth to break the tie, then a two-run shot to new Yankees-killer Mark Reynolds to put the crowd in hysterics again. And when Chris Davis homered on the first pitch from Boone Logan, giving Baltimore three homers in the eighth and six in the game, the Orioles were well on their way to a 10-6 win.
"I was really excited. I wanted to come in the ballgame and do well,'' said Robertson, who had allowed one earned run in 12 innings in his previous 12 appearances. "We made a big push to tie the ballgame. They expect me to come in and do a job and put up a zero right there, and I feel like I let the team down today.''
Alex Rodriguez put it another way. "That was an impressive eighth inning,'' he said. "We had an impressive top half; they trumped us in the bottom half.''
The Yankees (77-60), 3-7 to start this stretch of 22 straight games against AL East teams, fell back into a tie atop the division with Baltimore. Tampa Bay is two games behind.
The Yankees trailed 6-1 with two outs and a man on first in the top of the eighth, but they tied it on A-Rod's RBI double, Curtis Granderson's second RBI single of the game, a bases-loaded walk to Chris Dickerson and Ichiro Suzuki's two-run single.
Then, all of a sudden, it no longer was tied.
The Yankees think they'll get a spark soon with the return of Mark Teixeira, who tested his calf strain before the game by running and taking batting practice. Can he play Friday night? "That's what I'm hoping,'' he said.
The Orioles seemingly are getting sparks from everyone, Reynolds most of all. His two-run shot in the eighth was his 20th homer of the season and second of the night, giving him eight homers and 16 RBIs in his last seven games. In his last four games against the Yankees, he has 10 RBIs. He hit four home runs last weekend as the Orioles took two of three in the Bronx.
Reynolds has three two-homer games against the Yankees in seven days. According to cbssports.com, the only other player with three multi-homer games against the Yankees in a season was the Tigers' Hank Greenberg -- in 1938. And his were separated by four months.
"We made mistakes, and if you make mistakes to hitters who can hit the ball out of the ballpark, they're going to do it,'' Girardi said. "Every hitter has a way to pitch to him and has holes, but if you make mistakes, it doesn't matter if they've been struggling or not, they're going to hit it.''
Reynolds entered last weekend's series against the Yankees with 12 homers in 335 at-bats and 103 games, along with a meager .221 batting average and .397 slugging percentage.
"He's an all-or-nothing guy,'' Russell Martin said. "If he gets his pitch, he can do damage with it. He's a tough out right now. Right now he's in a happy place, and we're going to have to pitch him differently and do some things and be careful.''
It looked as though the Yankees' clubhouse would be a happy place, too, but that quickly changed.
Still, no one thought the loss felt more significant because of how it occurred. "We're not going to keep our heads down,'' Martin said.
Said Girardi: "If you lose 6-1, it's an important win for them and an important loss for us. I don't know if I'd feel any different.''
A-Rod felt as if the top of the eighth can be built on. "I feel good about where we're at,'' he said. "I think we're going to be fine.''