BALTIMORE -- Prior to Wednesday's game, Orioles manager Buck Showalter talked optimistically about his 2012 club and how close he felt the O's are to fielding a truly competitive, winning team.
The Orioles aren't there quite yet, pushing through growing pains that were on display on Wednesday night, when Baltimore dropped its second extra-innings game in as many nights, falling, 6-4, in 10 to the New York Yankees and absorbing a series sweep.
Orioles reliever Kevin Gregg, who lost the closer's role to Jim Johnson this season, allowed a two-run homer to Nick Swisher in the 10th inning to set up New York's win and hand the O's their third consecutive loss.
"We were a little short down there," Showalter said of his bullpen, which was overextended to begin the night and lost another option when righty Matt Lindstrom's back tightened up. "Kevin pitched well the whole season so far. He made one pitch [to Swisher] that he'd probably like to have back. Otherwise, he pitched real well. And if you look at the track record, he's pitched pretty well against the Yankees over his whole career."
On for a second inning -- unusual, but a necessity given the thin relief corps -- Gregg allowed a leadoff single to Eduardo Nunez that was erased by Matt Wieters' pickoff throw to first base. Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira followed with a perfectly placed blooper into shallow left -- away from the dives of Mark Reynolds and Nolan Reimold -- to put the go-ahead run on second base. Swisher blasted Gregg's full-count offering over the right-field wall to break a 4-4 tie.
"The ball just slipped out of my hand," Gregg said of the 86-mph cutter. "Slipped up there, left it over the plate, and he didn't miss it."
While Gregg shouldered the loss, the Orioles also squandered a key chance to score in the bottom of the ninth, with cleanup hitter Adam Jones striking out to leave the bases loaded. With two outs in the ninth, Reimold delivered a double into the right-field corner off Yankees setup man Rafael Soriano. Soriano proceeded to walk J.J. Hardy, and after a brief mound meeting, the right-hander issued an intentional walk to Nick Markakis to bring up Jones, who is now hitless in seven career at-bats against Soriano.
"Oh my God-- I'm still thinking about that now," Jones said of his final at-bat. "I'm texting my brother about it. Just overswinging. I need to stay shorter. Somebody told me, 'Stop trying to hit the ball to San Diego. Just put the ball in play.' That's true. I just need to put the ball in play and make the defense make a play."
After rain delayed the game's start by 20 minutes, it took less than two minutes for the Yankees to get on the board, courtesy of Curtis Granderson's two-run homer. Orioles starter Jake Arrieta, who warmed up on the mound and then sat down while the grounds crew laid out the tarp, allowed a leadoff double to Derek Jeter before Granderson went yard. The 26-year-old Arrieta -- coming off an Opening Day win that included seven scoreless innings -- settled in nicely after that, retiring 12 of the next 13 hitters to give his offense a chance to work.
Arrieta ran into trouble in the fifth inning, issuing a leadoff walk and hitting Russell Martin to let the Yankees easily load the bases with no outs. But he was able to wriggle free and allow only one run on Jeter's high chopper, with Andino -- who hit a two-out, two-run double in the second -- snagging a line drive to save a run.
"I think the biggest thing tonight was the fifth inning," said Arrieta, who exited two outs into the seventh. "I was able to get out of that jam only allowing one run, and that was huge; that kept us in the ballgame. To me, that was the biggest inning of the whole game."
Arrieta exited to an ovation from the crowd of 22,919 at Camden Yards, but reliever Luis Ayala allowed Martin, an inherited runner, to score from first base for a fourth -- and game-tying -- run charged to Arrieta. Ayala pitched a scoreless eighth, picking up a pair of strikeouts to strand runners on second and third.
The Orioles worked Yankees starter CC Sabathia, who needed 74 pitches to get through three innings, but they were unable to force him to an early exit. The big lefty tossed 112 pitches and battled through six innings, allowing eight hits and two walks, but he kept his team in the game. Sabathia struck out eight, and the Orioles left six men on base in the first six innings alone.
"Going into the game, you knew they were going to be a little short [in the bullpen], too, like us, so being able to get him out of the game, we felt like it boded well," Showalter said of ending Sabathia's night after six. "If he stayed in the game, we didn't like our chances. I looked at it like we did a good job with him. It was more after the fact that we didn't quite get over the hump with it."
But the Orioles couldn't get to the Yankees bullpen all series, with Reynolds' two-out, two-run double off Sabathia in the fifth the team's final tally. After a 3-0 start to the season, the Orioles are now 3-3.
"Initially, yes," Showalter said of the last two losses being more difficult to swallow. "But the one good thing about our sport is there's always an opportunity to feel better very quickly. You don't have to sit on it very long. It's something that we're going to learn from, and we're going to get better. I like what I'm seeing."
"Getting swept is tough, but we are going to compete with those guys all year, as well as the other teams in our division," Arrieta said. "It is just a matter of making one more pitch or getting one more guy on base. There's a lot of variables there, but we are going to find ways to get it done. It's just a matter of not letting this get to us too much."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.