NEW YORK -- The most astonishing thing about Daniel Cabrera's near no-hitter was the mighty lineup it came against.
Flashing a fastball that touched 97 mph, Cabrera overcame three errors behind him and cruised into the ninth inning with a chance to make history at Yankee Stadium.
But after Johnny Damon grounded weakly to first, Cano punched an 0-1 delivery to the opposite field for New York's only hit -- drawing a roar from the crowd of 54,046 and a pained expression from Cabrera, who turned around to watch the ball and then grimaced.
"I thought it was a really good pitch," he said. "I made the right pitch. He's a good hitter, and he hit it."
On the very next offering, Bobby Abreu bounced into a game-ending double play.
"I'm really happy and excited. It's the best game I ever pitched," said Cabrera, who lives about 2 minutes from Cano in the Dominican Republic.
"He's not my friend anymore," Cabrera joked.
Cano, batting .343 in his second big league season, was 0-for-9 against Cabrera in the majors before his single, though Cabrera said Cano got him twice in winter ball.
"I wasn't thinking about breaking it up," Cano said. "Just go to the plate and get a hit."
After coming tantalizingly close to Baltimore's first no-hitter in 15 years, Cabrera (9-10) was left with his third career complete game and second this season. He struck out five and walked two, throwing 71 of his 106 pitches for strikes.
The 25-year-old right-hander nearly became the first pitcher to toss a complete-game no-hitter against the Yankees since Orioles knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm in 1958. New York was no-hit at home by six Houston pitchers on June 11, 2003.
The Yankees, who already clinched the AL East title and are just playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs, rested Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter. But every other regular in New York's powerful lineup was on the field.
"Every out they made, I enjoyed it," Cabrera said.
One night earlier, the Yankees showed just how imposing their modern-day version of Murderers' Row can be, banging out 18 hits in a 16-5 victory over Baltimore.
But Cabrera, recalled from Triple-A Ottawa on Aug. 8, hardly seemed impressed -- and he never looked nervous while buzzing right through the Yankees.
In fact, he was fooling around with teammate Fernando Tatis in the dugout before the ninth, bucking decades of baseball tradition that says players don't talk to a pitcher who is working on a no-no.
"That just goes to continue to prove a well-pitched game will shut down any ballclub," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.
The no-hit bid by the 6-foot-7 right-hander came just more than three weeks after Florida rookie Anibal Sanchez no-hit Arizona 2-0 on Sept. 6, which ended a drought of more than two years without a no-hitter -- the longest stretch of games in major league history.
San Diego's Chris Young also came within two outs of a no-hitter against Pittsburgh last Friday.
"We definitely didn't want to get no-hit. Thank God for Robinson Cano," Damon said. "He's a really good pitcher. They've got an ace for the future."
Bob Milacki, Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson and Gregg Olson combined on Baltimore's last no-hitter, on July 13, 1991, against Oakland.
Hall of Famer Jim Palmer was the last Orioles pitcher to throw his own no-no, on Aug. 13, 1969, also against the Athletics. Palmer, an Baltimore broadcaster, had a bird's-eye view of Cabrera's performance from the booth behind home plate.
"We've said it time and time again. He's got no-hit stuff, and he came pretty darn close tonight," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "I gave him a little hug. He had to bend down a little bit. I expected him to be disappointed, but he was a little relieved, and proud of himself -- and he deserved to be."
The Yankees didn't hit many balls hard. Damon lined out to right field to end the sixth, and Cano led off the seventh with a line drive right at third baseman Melvin Mora.
Baltimore's errors were committed by first baseman Kevin Millar, second baseman Brian Roberts and Mora during a seven-batter span in the sixth and seventh. A pair of passed balls helped Abreu score in the seventh.
"The ball was moving a lot. He was painting the corners," Abreu said.
Helped by two double plays, Cabrera faced the minimum 16 batters through 5 1/3 innings before Miguel Cairo reached on Millar's error.
All three Orioles miscues were immediately ruled errors by official scorer Bill Shannon -- and each drew a louder groan from the crowd.
"I've never seen errors go up there that quickly," Torre said.
Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run homer off Darrell Rasner (3-1) and a solo shot for the Orioles. Miguel Tejada had a two-run single.
The Yankees had won three straight. Baltimore snapped a four-game losing streak.
Oakland's 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Angels later Thursday night guaranteed the Yankees home-field advantage in the first round of the postseason.
Tejada's two-run single in the first gave him his sixth 100-RBI season. Tejada singled again in the fourth for his 211th hit, tying Cal Ripken Jr.'s club record set in 1983.
Hernandez set a career high with his 22nd homer in the third, an opposite-field shot to right that made it 5-0. He added his seventh homer against New York this season, a solo shot in the ninth.
|Daniel Cabrera stymies the mighty Yankees lineup, taking a no-hit bid into the ninth inning. (AP)|
|Players of the Game|
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|Brian Roberts, 2B||5||0||1||0||0||1||4||.289|
|Melvin Mora, 3B||4||1||0||0||1||1||2||.274|
|Nick Markakis, RF||5||2||2||0||0||0||0||.296|
|Miguel Tejada, SS||4||1||2||2||1||0||0||.331|
|Jay Gibbons, DH||4||0||2||0||1||0||2||.279|
|Ramon Hernandez, C||4||2||2||4||1||0||3||.277|
|David Newhan, CF||5||1||2||0||0||0||5||.250|
|Kevin Millar, 1B||4||0||2||1||1||0||1||.269|
|Chris Gomez, 1B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.333|
|Jeff Fiorentino, LF||4||0||1||0||1||1||2||.257|
|2B - Nick Markakis (25, Rasner), David Newhan (4, Dotel)|
|HR - Ramon Hernandez 2 (23, Rasner, Dotel)|
|RBI - Miguel Tejada 2 (100), Ramon Hernandez 4 (91), Kevin Millar (61)|
|Team LOB - 11|
|DP - B. Roberts-Tejada-Millar, B. Roberts-Tejada-Millar, Tejada-Gomez|
|PB - Ramon Hernandez 2 (13)|
|E - Kevin Millar (4, Missed catch of throw), Melvin Mora (15, Misplayed grounder), Brian Roberts (9, Misplayed grounder)|
|Daniel Cabrera (W,9-10)||9||1||1||0||2||5||0||4.74|
|Pitches-Strikes - Daniel Cabrera 106-71|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Daniel Cabrera 14-8|
|Batters Faced - Daniel Cabrera 30|
|New York Yankees|
|Johnny Damon, CF||3||0||0||0||1||0||1||.287|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||1||1||.343|
|Bobby Abreu, RF||4||1||0||0||0||0||2||.300|
|Jason Giambi, DH||3||0||0||0||0||2||1||.252|
|Gary Sheffield, 1B||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.297|
|Hideki Matsui, LF||3||0||0||0||0||0||1||.301|
|Jorge Posada, C||3||0||0||0||0||0||0||.275|
|Miguel Cairo, SS||2||0||0||0||1||0||0||.234|
|Andy Cannizaro, 3B||2||0||0||0||0||1||2||.250|
|a- Melky Cabrera, PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||0||.279|
|Nick Green, 3B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.184|
|a-struck out for Cannizaro in the 8th|
|DP - Cairo-Cano-Sheffield, Cano-Cairo-Sheffield|
|New York Yankees|
|Darrell Rasner (L,3-1)||2.1||5||5||5||3||0||1||4.43|
|Pitches-Strikes - Darrell Rasner 71-39, Sean Henn 66-37, Jose Veras 28-18, Octavio Dotel 12-8|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Darrell Rasner 3-4, Sean Henn 1-7, Jose Veras 3-2, Octavio Dotel 1-1|
|Batters Faced - Darrell Rasner 15, Sean Henn 18, Jose Veras 7, Octavio Dotel 5|
|Attendance - 54046|
|Game Time - 2:47|
|Temperature - 68|
|Umpires - Home - Mark Wegner, First Base - Marvin Hudson, Second Base - Jerry Layne, Third Base - Bob Davidson|