BALTIMORE (AP) — Joe Girardi had just sat through a rain delay that lasted longer than the game itself, and all that got him and the New York Yankees was another loss.
It was enough to make a manager want to throw the baseball rule book in the trash.
The Yankees wasted a leadoff home run by Brett Gardner and lost to the Baltimore Orioles 3-1 on Sunday night in a game called by rain after 4 1/2 innings.
Baltimore scored all its runs in the fourth inning and Kevin Gausman (4-2) got three straight outs in the fifth. After Steve Pearce drew a walk in the bottom half, the rain came.
The game was finally called after a delay of 2 hours, 22 minutes. The official time of game was 1:39.
Baseball rules deem that a game is official if the home team is winning after the top of the fifth. Girardi doesn’t like it.
“My preference would be that you come back and finish it,” he said. “We’re coming back, why don’t we finish it? It would be changing what they’ve done in the past, but I think it would be something to look at.”
Gausman gave up four hits, struck out two and walked none in his first career complete game. The right-hander retired 12 of the final 13 players he faced to improve to 3-1 lifetime against the Yankees.
Things didn’t look so promising after Gausman gave up a homer to Gardner on the game’s fourth pitch, but the Yankees didn’t get a runner past first base the rest of the way.
New York starter Chase Whitley (4-3) gave up three runs and five hits in 3 2-3 innings. He had been relegated to the bullpen after going 0-3 with a 14.81 ERA in his last three starts.
Gardner gave the Yankees a 1-0 lead with his career-high ninth home run. It was the second homer allowed by Gausman this season, the first in 27 innings.
“I knew right away that it was a bad pitch location. It was right down the middle,” Gausman said. “Honestly, I think it kind of woke me up a little bit.”
Baltimore loaded the bases with two outs in the second before rookie Jonathan Schoop hit a routine fly ball to center.
Whitley struck out two in a perfect third, but couldn’t get out of the fourth. Nelson Cruz walked and Chris Davis snapped an 0-for-13 skid with his 15th homer, an opposite-field drive to left. J.J. Hardy followed with a double and Schoop chased Whitley with a two-out RBI single.
“That last inning got away a little bit, but I felt good about tonight,” Whitley said.
In the top of the fifth, the grounds crew positioned itself behind the rolled-up tarp in anticipation of a rainstorm. As a fierce wind swirled around Camden Yards, lifting hot dog wrappers high in the air, Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis fell over after struggling to catch a knuckleballing fly for the second out.
Soon after that, the rain came. Very long after that, the game was called.
“Rain-shortened, five at-bats,” Whitley said. “That’s a tough one.”
Baltimore hit the break in first place in the AL East for the first time since 1997.
“We have a goal of going out and winning the division this year,” Davis said. “We wanted to kind of control our own destiny. We’re definitely in the driver’s seat right now and hopefully we can keep it going.”
Injury-riddled New York reached the midpoint at 47-47, five games back in third place.
“With everything that we had go wrong, we’re still in it,” Girardi said. “That’s the big thing. We’ve got to take advantage of that when we get back to work on Friday.”
NOTES: Gardner has three career leadoff HRs, two this season. … The Orioles formally put RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (ankle) on the 15-day disabled list to make room for Gausman, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. … The Yankees recalled RHP Bryan Mitchell from Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes-Barre and optioned OF Zoilo Almonte to the same club. … Baltimore’s Manny Machado singled in the second inning to reach base for a 16th consecutive game, tying his career high.