A Yankees season that already had a bit of everything added one missing element Friday night: a walk-off victory.
Carlos Beltran provided it with a two-out, three-run homer on a 3-and-1 fastball in the bottom of the ninth off lefthander Zach Britton to give the Yankees a 5-3 victory at the Stadium in front of 46,197, most of whom spent much of the night frustrated with the home team's offense.
The Yankees, miserable much of the evening with runners in scoring position, scored four times in the ninth for their fourth straight victory and eighth in their last 10.
"We couldn't seem to get the big hit when we needed it but we found a way to get it done," Joe Girardi said. "That's what you need to do if you want to play in October."
"It's a tremendous at-bat," Girardi said. "And it's a tremendous win for this team."
Beltran as recently as a week ago discussed how uncomfortable he felt at the plate because of a bone spur in his right elbow. But earlier in the week, the outfielder, who has been relegated solely to designated hitter since coming off the DL on June 5, said he has been feeling better. He drove in two runs in Thursday's victory over the Blue Jays, and he had a double and a walk Friday night before driving a 96-mph fastball from the lefty Britton (3-1) deep into the seats in left-center.
"When you feel good at the plate, you want to be in that spot," said Beltran, whose walk-off homer was his first since June 11, 2008 against Arizona when he was with the Mets. "When you're not swinging the bat well, you don't want to be in that spot. Thank God the past couple days, I've been feeling more comfortable at the plate. I just felt confident I was going to do something positive."
The victory kept the Yankees (39-33) 1 1/2 games behind the first-place Blue Jays in the AL East. The Orioles (37-35) are 3 1/2 games behind.
"It really means a lot for us," Beltran said. "Right now, we're playing against teams that are in our division. It's always important to win the first one in the series."
The Yankees, coming off a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays, were 2-for-10 with RISP entering the ninth, but Brian McCann singled to score Brett Gardner, who opened the inning with a single and went to second on a walk to Mark Teixeira.
Many of the Bombers' struggles were against the Orioles' erratic righthander Ubaldo Jimenez, who somehow allowed just one run after giving up six hits and six walks.
The offense's early troubles almost made a loser out of Hiroki Kuroda, who no-hit the Orioles for five innings before allowing two runs and four hits in the sixth.
"What was lost was Kuroda's performance," McCann said. "He was awesome."
The Yankees gave Kuroda a lead in the first when Teixeira doubled in Jacoby Ellsbury, who reached on an infield single and stole his 21st base.
The Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the sixth, getting an RBI double by former Yankee Steve Pearce and an RBI single by Adam Jones. Baltimore added an unearned run off David Huff (2-0) in the ninth to take a 3-1 lead.
Notes & quotes: RHP Michael Pineda (strained teres major muscle) is scheduled to start a throwing program Saturday but had a precautionary MRI on Friday.