BALTIMORE -- After a torrid August, Alfonso Soriano cooled off in recent days. But he got hot again on Tuesday night, helping the New York Yankees to a crucial late-season victory.
Soriano sparked a four-run eighth inning with his second home run of the night, a tiebreaking two-run shot that helped the Yankees to a 7-5 victory over the Orioles at Camden Yards.
The victory tightened an already-tight race for the second wild card spot in the American league. Tampa Bay and the Cleveland Indians also lost. The Rays are 1 1/2 games ahead of the Orioles (77-67) and the Indians (77-67) and the Yankees (77-68) are one-half game back.
Soriano had been on a 2-for-16 slide entering this game after driving in 31 runs in August. But he finished 2-for-5 with the two homers and three RBIs.
"He's been really clutch all year long," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He's played every day, and he's played really, really well."
Soriano has belted 15 homers in just 43 games since the Yankees acquired him from the Chicago Cubs on July 26, giving New York a huge boost.
"I just try to do my job (and) not try to put extra pressure on (myself)," Soriano said. "I just try to go out there and have fun, every inning, every pitch and every game."
He did just that as New York scored six of the final seven runs after Baltimore took a 4-1 lead.
Soriano and Mark Reynolds started the comeback with solo homers off Baltimore starter Miguel Gonzalez in the sixth, making it 4-3. The Yankees then rocked right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-5) in the eighth.
Alex Rodriguez (2-for-4) led off with a double to left and Robinson Cano followed with a tying single. Soriano then blasted a two-run shot to right center for a 6-4 lead.
Reynolds also added an RBI double off Francisco Rodriguez to make it 7-4. Matt Wieters got a sacrifice fly for the Orioles in the eighth, but Mariano Rivera came on to get the final four outs, posting his 42nd save. Adam Warren (2-2) got the win thanks to pitching a scoreless seventh.
It was the third time in seven days that Girardi has asked Rivera for more than one inning, and the closer said he just wants to help the Yanks win.
"You just have to prepare for that, be ready for that situation. I'm fine (now)," Rivera said. "We need as many wins as we can get."
The victory was Girardi's 556th with the Yankees, tying him with Billy Martin for sixth place in franchise history.
There was no second act to Monday's dramatics involving the two managers. Showalter got mad when the Yankees accused third-base coach Bobby Dickerson of stealing signs, and the two skippers needed to be restrained from each other. Showalter said in a radio interview on Tuesday -- on ESPN New York 98.7's Lunch with Lupica show -- that the Yankees are one of the better teams at swiping signs.
The Yankees took an early 1-0 lead on Rodriguez's third-inning RBI double.
Baltimore answered with a four-run fifth. J.J. Hardy and Brian Roberts opened the inning with singles. Henry Urrutia then hit a slow grounder toward short that Eduardo Nunez fielded but threw away. Urrutia reached on the infield single and the throwing error resulted in Hardy scoring.
Nick Markakis followed with a sacrifice fly that gave the Orioles a 2-1 lead.
The ball wasn't hit deep to left, and Rodriguez surprisingly cut off the Soriano throw near the mound. Roberts scored easily and Stewart stood at the plate with his hands out wondering what happened.
Girardi said afterward that the throw was off-line.
Later in the inning, Davis crushed a two-run homer to center that gave the Orioles a 4-1 lead. That was his 49th of the season, but Baltimore couldn't hold the three-run edge.
"We just couldn't stem the tide," Showalter said. "They throw a lot of weapons at you, and Soriano has been a great addition for them. Rodriguez did some things that hurt us tonight."
NOTES: Markakis is likely going to miss some time when his wife, Christina, has labor induced on Wednesday. The Orioles aren't sure how long Markakis will be out. ... The Orioles released their 2014 schedule on Tuesday and they'll start the season at home against the Boston Red Sox on March 31. ... Girardi pulled Rodriguez in the eighth because his hamstring tightened up a little, and the skipper might just make him the DH on Wednesday. ... Girardi also said starter Ivan Nova had some problems in an area near the triceps. It tightened up and so he came out after six innings. It's a problem Nova been dealing with from time to time.