NEW YORK - Closer Jim Johnson, coming off a blown save and raising more concerns about his second-half performance, was handed the ball and a one-run lead tonight in the ninth inning.
After one batter, the Yankees had the tying run on second base. After three batters, they had the winning run at first base.
Nick Swisher led off with a ground-rule double to right-center field. Raul Ibanez struck out, but Eric Chavez walked.
Ichiro Suzuki bounced into a 6-4 force and later stole second, and Russell Martin struck out on a 95 mph fastball.
Johnson had his 31st save, and the Orioles had a tense 5-4 victory in the Bronx.
Johnson gave up six runs and five hits in one-third of an inning in his last appearance Friday against Oakland. He had an 18.47 ERA in eight games since the All-Star break.
He had a few tense moments tonight, but not a fourth blown save.
Pedro Strop passed the lead to Johnson with his 11th consecutive scoreless outing.
Miguel Gonzalez improved to 3-2 after giving up four runs and six hits in 6 2/3 innings. He served up three home runs, but they all came with the bases empty.
“A couple mistakes hurt me, but it’s a good thing that we won it,” he said.
“A couple bad pitches in the game and those guys are great hitters. They’re going to hit mistakes and that’s what happened.”
The game plan called for Gonzalez to “stay aggressive, throw strikes, get them off balance,” he said, “and that’s what I did and it worked out.”
In his last outing, Gonzalez was weakened by flu-like symptoms and gave up seven runs and seven hits in 2 2/3 innings against the Rays.
“That’s part of it,” Gonzalez said. “The other side is I didn’t have any of my pitches, and by doing that, things are not going to go well. Tonight, I had all my pitches working and (Matt) Wieters did a great job back there. Our bullpen did a great job. Got the win.”
Gonzalez departed after serving up back-to-back home runs to Eric Chavez and Ichiro Suzuki.
“I got tired toward the end,” he said. “My fastballs, instead of running away, they were cutting at the end. And these guys hit mistakes.”
The changeup was a big pitch for Gonzalez tonight.
“I’m confident with it,” he said. “I can throw it anytime in the count. And it was successful tonight and we got the win. That’s all that matters.”