Freddy Garcia of the New York Yankees pitches against the...

Freddy Garcia of the New York Yankees pitches against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. (Aug. 29, 2011) Credit: Getty

BALTIMORE -- Freddy Garcia became the latest starter to demonstrate why, when the Yankees trim their rotation from six to five, he shouldn't be the one to go.

In his first major-league start in 22 days, Garcia looked as perplexing as ever to the opposition Monday night. This time it was the Orioles who were flailing and mostly failing in a 3-2 Yankees victory in front of 18,223 at Camden Yards.

"As good as it gets,'' Joe Girardi said of an outing in which Garcia allowed two hits, one run and a walk in six innings.

"Everything was working,'' Garcia said.

Girardi, asked at the end of his postgame news conference if Garcia is assured of taking his next turn, said, "Oh, yeah.''

The series ended on a much higher note for the Yankees (80-52) -- who are 11/2 games behind the Red Sox as they begin a three-game series Tuesday night at Fenway Park -- than when it started Friday, the night of A.J. Burnett's latest mound meltdown.

Mark Teixeira had a double for his 100th RBI of the season -- becoming the only major-leaguer to record 30 homers and 100 RBIs in each of the last eight seasons -- and Nick Swisher hit a two-run homer, his sixth homer (among only eight hits) in his last seven games. That proved to be enough on a night dominated by pitching, as the Yankees had five hits and the Orioles three.

"We do have some guys out,'' Swisher said of a lineup without Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, who expects to be back Tuesday night. "Obviously, you want to be the guy to step up. To come in here and lose those first two games and the way we bounced back to win these last two, that's just great baseball, especially heading into a huge series this week.''

After allowing Adam Jones' two-out double in the first, Garcia (11-7, 3.09) retired 11 straight before Mark Reynolds hit his 31st homer of the season, making it 3-1 in the fifth. Garcia, who had not pitched since Aug. 7 because of a cut on his right index finger, retired five of the next six before handing that lead over to the bullpen.

"Have to be happy with that after not pitching for three weeks,'' Garcia said. "I'm glad to do my job and get a win. We needed it.''

Rafael Soriano pitched a perfect seventh and David Robertson was on his way toward duplicating that in the eighth before a shocking occurrence -- for him, anyway.

Robertson picked up the first two outs and had an 0-and-2 count on J.J. Hardy when he gave up a home run to make it 3-2. It was the first homer Robertson had allowed in 682/3 innings and was the first run he's given up in 29 road appearances this season. He had pitched 291/3 road innings before Hardy's 26th homer.

Mariano Rivera worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his 34th save of the season and 593rd of his career, picking up two grounders before striking out Reynolds.

Girardi has said that after the Boston series, his intention is to get back to a five-man rotation. Though the votes of confidence for Burnett from Girardi and Brian Cashman weren't as resounding after Friday night's game as they had been, the righthander at times has seemed as if he has a more solid lock on his job than a Supreme Court justice. That would leave the competition to stay in the rotation between Phil Hughes, Bartolo Colon and Garcia for two spots. After Monday night, it could be between the first two for one spot.

"He seemed,'' Jeter said of Garcia after the 22-day hiatus, "like he didn't miss a beat.''

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