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NYY@BAL: Swisher's blast puts the Yankees on top

BALTIMORE -- Nick Swisher said that he was going to have to ice his hand on the flight back to New York after high-fiving Mark Teixeira so viciously at home plate, and there's a chance he wasn't kidding.

Swisher's two-run homer in the 10th inning on Wednesday powered a 6-4 Yankees victory over the Orioles, helping to complete a three-game sweep and providing what he called "a huge morale boost" as the Bombers head north for Friday's home opener.

"Once we got on that plane and left Tampa, I think something clicked for us to say, 'All right, Spring Training's done,'" Swisher said. "We really need to step it up. For all of us, we're excited; it's just nice to get these three wins."

Swisher's blast into the green seats beyond the right-center-field wall off Kevin Gregg was the go-ahead blow, but the Yankees had to credit their bullpen for keeping them in the game after CC Sabathia burned 112 pitches in six innings.

Taxed by a 12-inning victory over the O's on Tuesday, the Yankees' relievers loomed large again with four scoreless frames, as Boone Logan, winning pitcher Rafael Soriano and closer Mariano Rivera held Baltimore silent on two hits.

"Definitely, it was a great job," said Rivera, who pitched for a third straight day and logged his second save of the year. "We're capable to do that, though. We've got a great group of guys there, a good combination of veterans and young boys there. Hopefully, we can continue to do the same thing."

Yankees manager Joe Girardi rolled the dice to keep the game going in the ninth, putting Soriano in a tight spot by issuing an intentional walk to Nick Markakis that loaded the bases.

"I'm sure I'm going to be asked about it if it doesn't work," Girardi said. "You've got to manage what you believe in your heart to win a game. Sori is not a guy that traditionally walks a lot of people. He has more success off of right-handers."

Indeed, Soriano liked the right-on-right matchup with Adam Jones, and the Yankees loved the results when Soriano fanned the center fielder to strand three men and send the game to extra innings.

Eduardo Nunez was picked off first base for the second out of New York's 10th inning, but birthday boy Mark Teixeira picked up a gift two-out double that blooped safely into left field, bringing up Swisher. Swisher unloaded on a full-count fastball from Gregg and sent it deep toward Eutaw Street.

"In that spot, I'm just trying to make contact," Swisher said. "I got rung up on a close call the at-bat before, and I definitely wasn't going down without a swing in that last at-bat. I got a pitch he kind of missed over the middle of the plate, and I was just lucky to get the barrel on it."

The Yankees desperately needed length out of Sabathia, and they got more than some might have expected after the ace needed 50 pitches to navigate the first two innings.

"I was just trying to be too fine with my fastball," Sabathia said. "I had good command, and my pitches were doing what they needed to. I was just trying to make too good a pitch."

Then again, the Yankees could have simply considered themselves fortunate after Sabathia stuck his left hand in front of a second-inning Ronny Paulino chopper that glanced off the left-hander's middle two fingers, breaking up what might have been a double-play grounder.

"It's just a natural reaction," Sabathia said. "I probably won't do it again."

Sabathia was proclaimed healthy after a look from head athletic trainer Steve Donohue, but the missed chance hurt the Yankees, as Robert Andino put Baltimore on the board with a two-run single to center field.

Powered by Curtis Granderson's two-run homer in the first inning off Jake Arrieta, New York briefly took a lead in the fifth on Derek Jeter's RBI groundout. Struggling slugger Mark Reynolds snapped his funk with a two-run double to left-center field in the home half, giving the Orioles the lead.

Sabathia once again lacked his fastball command, but he found other ways to keep the bullpen out of the first six innings of the game. The lefty racked up eight strikeouts over his outing, allowing eight hits and walking two.

"I was riding him out," Girardi said. "Even when you look at CC's struggles, he still only gave up four runs. He keeps you in the game. A lot of other guys, when they struggle, you're looking seven, eight, nine. That's the amazing thing about CC."

Arrieta left with a lead and received a standing ovation when his work was complete after 6 2/3 innings. But Granderson tied the game with a single off Luis Ayala, as both starters received no-decisions.

With an off-day on Thursday and the team's Welcome Home dinner ahead, the Yankees departed the Inner Harbor in positive spirits. They can pretend, as Swisher wanted to, that the season didn't really begin until they got to Baltimore. The standings don't agree, but .500 isn't so bad after six games.

"It's nice to go home," Girardi said. "It seems like we haven't been home in a long, long time. I think everyone is excited to go home -- 3-3 is a lot better than the alternative."

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