Pearce scores game-winner for Orioles, whose 2-run 9th inning sinks Yankees 3-2

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BALTIMORE — No matter what the situation and regardless of who's at the plate, the Baltimore Orioles believe they're going to win.

Often, that's precisely what happens. And that is why they're on the brink of becoming AL East champions.

Steve Pearce hit an RBI double in the ninth inning and scored the game-winner on a double by Kelly Johnson to rally the Orioles past the New York Yankees 3-2 Sunday night.

Any number of Orioles wins and Toronto losses totaling three will give Baltimore its first division title since 1997.

Pearce and Johnson aren't the most notable names on a team with Adam Jones, Nelson Cruz, J.J. Hardy and Nick Markakis, but on this club, virtually everyone contributes.

"That's the beauty of a team," Jones said. "Everyone gets at-bats, everyone gets an opportunity to do something. When an opportunity arises, big bats come through."

Johnson, who came to the Orioles in an Aug. 30 trade, was mobbed at second base after his game-winning hit.

"It's really, really exciting," he said. "I'm not going to lie. It feels really good. You want to contribute, you want to drive in runs, you want to score runs, all those things and you want to be a part of it."

As Jones said, that's the beauty of this team.

"We have a lot of good options on the bench," manager Buck Showalter said. "Good players execute in situations like that."

The winning rally came after Brian McCann hit a tiebreaking homer off Darren O'Day (5-1) in the top of the ninth.

Cruz opened the bottom half with double off David Roberson (2-5). Pinch-runner Quintin Berry scored on Pearce's liner into the left-field corner, and one out later, Johnson — a former Yankee — delivered the game-winner into the gap in right-center.

Earlier in the series, New York took a one-run lead in the 11th inning before Baltimore scored twice in the bottom half.

"You act certain ways when your back's against the wall," said Jones, who had RBI double in the sixth. "The game's not over with, so we just play until that last out."

Martin Prado homered for the Yankees, who lost three of four to the Orioles and dropped five games behind Kansas City in the race for the second wild-card spot.

"It was another tough one tonight," manager Joe Girardi said. "Just have to move on."

Dellin Betances struck out two in the eighth inning to raise his total for the season to 130, tied with Mariano Rivera for most by a Yankees reliever.

But Robertson was ineffective in his third straight day on the mound.

"I just wasn't able to do it today. I just stunk," he said. "It's not how I felt, it's just how I pitched."

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was honored and showered with gifts before his final game at Camden Yards. The 40-year-old Jeter, who will retire after this season, went 0 for 4 and is hitless in his last 24 at-bats.

His slump is indicative of the Yankees' hitting woes of late. Second baseman Stephen Drew interrupted a 2-for-35 skid with a fifth-inning bunt, and New York scored only six runs in the four-game series.

Orioles starter Chris Tillman gave up one run and five hits in 6 2-3 innings, his 19th consecutive start in which he allowed three runs or fewer.

Yankees right-hander Hiroki Kuroda limited Baltimore to one run and six hits over seven innings.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Yankees: C Francisco Cervelli, who's missed 13 straight games with cluster headaches, could return in the next day or two. He says he hasn't experienced symptoms in about a week and has been catching in the bullpen.

Orioles: In order to stay healthy for a possible playoff appearance, suspended 1B Chris Davis will head to Sarasota soon to work out at the team's spring training facility. Davis began a 25-game suspension on Friday for amphetamine use.

UP NEXT

Yankees: New York sends Chris Capuano (2-3, 4.90 ERA) to the mound against Tampa Bay, a team the Yankees beat twice in New York last week.

Orioles: Wei-Yin Chen (15-4) seeks his first career win against the Blue Jays in the opener of a three-game set. The lefty is 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in two starts against Toronto.

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