BALTIMORE - After a mess of a loss Friday night, Brett Gardner spoke hopefully.
"It wasn't pretty to watch, it wasn't real pretty to be a part of," he said. "Hopefully, we got it all out of our system."
Not even close.
A subpar five innings from CC Sabathia, a suddenly vulnerable bullpen and more slapstick in the field conspired to send the Yankees to a 9-4 loss to the Orioles in front of 38,909 at Camden Yards on Saturday night. It was the Bombers' third straight loss after a seven-game win streak.
"It seems like it's par for the course the way the season's gone the first couple of months," said Alex Rodriguez, whose two-run homer in the sixth tied it at 4-4 and was the 666th of his career and gave him 2,001 RBIs, a plateau reached officially by only one other player, Henry Aaron (2,297). "We recognize what Yankee baseball is like and tonight wasn't that."
The Yankees (33-28), who lost the first game of the series, 11-3, fell into a virtual tie for first in the AL East with the Tampa Bay Rays. The hard-charging Blue Jays (33-30), who have won 10 straight, and Orioles (31-30), who have won six straight, are closing in.
Sabathia allowed four runs and eight hits, the runs coming on two-run homers by Nolan Reimold and Manny Machado. The latter, who reached base four times Friday, went 3-for-5 with four RBIs.
Still, Sabathia, whose ERA ticked up to 5.38, was off the hook for a loss, thanks to A-Rod's homer that also gave the DH 2,995 career hits.
But the bullpen flushed it from there.
Righty Chris Martin (0-2) threw three wild pitches in a three-run sixth and righty Sergio Santos, making his Yankees debut, allowed two more runs in the seventh.
"Just overthrowing," said Martin, activated from the DL on May 31 and recalled from Triple-A on Thursday. "Big situation, you want to go out, your first time out, and make an impact. I just got a little over-amped."
Mark Teixeira's RBI single in the first gave Sabathia a 1-0 lead and Brian McCann's RBI double off the wall in right made it 2-0. It gave McCann 39 RBIs, second on the team behind Teixeira's 46.
In the third, Machado led off with a single, and Reimold fouled a 3-and-2 pitch toward the Orioles dugout. Teixeira and McCann both went after it but froze as the ball dropped.
"You have to open your mouth, that's the bottom line," Girardi said.
"They're too experienced not to open their mouths. That shouldn't happen."
Predictably, Reimold then lined a fastball to right-center for a two-run homer to tie it at 2.
"Neither of us called it because neither of us really had a bead on it because we were kind of going toward the rail," Teixeira said. "That's a ball I should have had."
Though McCann said if the ball was caught, "it's a different game," Sabathia didn't dwell on it.
"I just need to make a better pitch there," he said.
Rookie centerfielder Mason Williams helped keep it 4-4 in the fourth, tracking down, after a full-spring, a Matt Wieters drive into the gap in right-center. Williams, as he made the sliding catch, slammed his right knee into the wall but stayed in.
Williams could not save Sabathia in the fifth as Machado's two-run homer made it 4-4.
Martin helped gaslight the sixth with his three wild pitches, though McCann, who has struggled blocking balls all season, said: "One hundred percent, they've got to be blocked. Anything in the dirt, it's my job to block it."