One night after perhaps saving the Yankees' season, Raul Ibañez rode the bench.

At least he started the night on it, as Joe Girardi left the veteran lefthanded hitter out of his ALDS Game 4 lineup against Orioles lefthanded starter Joe Saunders.

"I'm here to help the team win however I can," Ibañez said after batting practice Thursday.

Ibanez, 8-for-23 with two homers in his career against Saunders, helped the Yankees in a big way Wednesday night, contributing a pinch-hit homer with one out in the ninth that tied the score before winning it in the 12th with another solo shot.

Girardi, meanwhile, finally dropped Alex Rodriguez in the lineup, though not dramatically. He batted Mark Teixeira third and Rodriguez fifth -- with Robinson Cano in the cleanup spot -- against Saunders. Teixeira batted sixth in the first three games.

"I've liked Tex's at-bats against lefthanders and Tex has been one of our most productive hitters against lefthanders," Girardi said. "He swung it really well against Saunders the last time we faced him."

advertisement | advertise on newsday

Teixeira entered Game 4 3-for-18 in his career against Saunders, though the last time he saw him, Sept. 8, he doubled and walked. A-Rod entered Game 4 7-for-16 with two homers against Saunders.

"I could have gone either way on that with Alex third or Tex," Girardi said. "But putting the switch hitter [Teixeira] in between, I don't mind doing that."

Girardi said he was not worried that he might be taking the bat out of Cano's hands by putting A-Rod behind him in the order. "If they want to walk Cano to get to Al,'' he said, "let them."

Because of how Game 3 ended in the bottom of the 12th, a play from the top of the inning went mostly under the radar. It occurred with two outs in the inning when Mark Reynolds sent a sky-high pop- up that ended up landing halfway between the mound and the plate as Teixeira and David Robertson bumped into each other. Teixeira initially was charged with an error but the official scorer later changed it to a hit.

"The wind really picked up late," Teixeira said. "That ball started behind home plate. I didn't think I was going to be in the play, but as it started drifting, I kept drifting. And Robby didn't think he was even going to be close to the play so he didn't move, and I think that's why we kind of collided. He figured, just like I figured, that Russell [Martin] would probably catch it around home plate. Just one of those weird plays."

Hal in the house