"When I first got here this morning, I wanted another shot at it. I wanted to go back out there as soon as possible in a save situation and finish the game," he said. "This is the best-case scenario for me."
Paul Bako put Baltimore ahead 5-3 with his first home run since 2004, a three-run drive in the fourth off Darrell Rasner (0-1), the latest Yankees starter to flop. Erik Bedard (1-1), chased early by Minnesota on opening day, gave up a two-run homer to Rodriguez in a three-run first and then rebounded to retire his next 11 batters and 20 of 22.
On a strange, 41-degree day when snow flurries swirled after the sun came out, Ray got to make up for Saturday's deflating 10-7 defeat.
"I told him before the game, `When you face a little adversity, pitch your way through it and don't overthrow your way through it,'" Orioles pitching coach Leo Mazzone said.
After Johnny Damon tripled and scored in the eighth, John Parrish got Josh Phelps to hit an inning-ending flyout with the bases loaded. Damon singled off Ray with two outs in the ninth, bringing the tying run to the plate.
A day earlier, Ray allowed New York to load the bases on a two-out hit, a walk and a hit batter. He said he didn't control his adrenaline.
"The amount of mistakes I made, I just couldn't believe it. It didn't even seem real to me," he said. "I was trying to strike out people on an 0-0 count."
This time, he got his second save.
Baltimore, which played a planned opener on the road for the first time since 1978, headed home with a 2-4 record after getting swept by Minnesota and taking two of three at Yankee Stadium.
"We've got to believe in ourselves. For us to bounce back after a devastating loss last night I think is a great thing of what's to come," said Kevin Millar, who homered and drove in three runs. "We came back in here loosey-goosey."
New York (2-3) left for a six-game trip to Minnesota and Oakland, still seeking an acceptable performance from a starting pitcher. Rasner, who developed a blister on his right index finger, gave up five runs and eight hits in 4 1/3 innings.
"There's no excuse for what happened," he said.
Yankees starters have allowed 27 runs -- 24 earned -- and 36 hits in 21 2-3 innings for a 9.97 ERA.
"We need the starters to give us six innings," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "We know we are a better team than we've shown."
In the biggest oddity, Andy Pettitte came in for just his second relief appearance since 1998. Pettitte, who struck out one and walked one in a hitless sixth, had volunteered to pitch in relief Saturday after throwing 83 pitches two days earlier.
"We're obviously scuffling right now," he said.
Millar hit a two-run homer in the second to start Baltimore's comeback and added a sacrifice fly in the seventh that made it 6-3 after second baseman Robinson Cano dropped a popup -- New York's AL-leading eighth error.
Still booed by Yankees fans from his days playing for Boston, Millar was 1-for-14 this year with no RBI before he homered. Last year, three of his 15 home runs were against New York.
"Love it. Love it. How do you not hear them?" he said of the jeers and then smiled. "They have a problem with my highlights."
Bako, a backup catcher behind injured regular Ramon Hernandez, got his 15th career homer, his first since Aug. 25, 2004, for the Chicago Cubs against Milwaukee's Doug Davis, and second since July 7, 2002.
"I got some ribbing then from my teammates," he said. "They let me slide a little easier today."
|Paul Bako congratulates closer Chris Ray on finishing the job this time around vs. New York. (Getty Images)|
|Players of the Game|
Baltimore Orioles White/Orange/Black
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|Brian Roberts, 2B||5||0||0||0||0||2||0||.136|
|Melvin Mora, 3B||4||0||0||0||1||0||0||.250|
|Nick Markakis, RF||5||0||3||0||0||1||1||.320|
|Miguel Tejada, SS||5||1||1||0||0||0||2||.200|
|Aubrey Huff, 1B||4||0||0||0||1||1||3||.292|
|Chris Gomez, 1B||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.250|
|Jay Gibbons, LF||3||1||1||0||2||0||2||.211|
|Freddie Bynum, PR-LF||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|Kevin Millar, DH||3||2||2||3||1||0||1||.176|
|Corey Patterson, CF||2||1||0||0||2||1||3||.176|
|Paul Bako, C||4||1||1||3||0||0||2||.167|
|2B - Kevin Millar (1, Rasner)|
|HR - Kevin Millar (1, Rasner), Paul Bako (1, Rasner)|
|SF - Kevin Millar (1)|
|RBI - Kevin Millar 3 (3), Paul Bako 3 (3)|
|Team LOB - 10|
|Erik Bedard (W,1-1)||7||5||3||3||0||5||1||6.94|
|Jamie Walker (H,3)||0.2||2||1||1||0||0||0||2.45|
|John Parrish (H,1)||0.1||0||0||0||1||0||0||0.00|
|Chris Ray (S,2)||1||1||0||0||0||0||0||9.82|
|Pitches-Strikes - Erik Bedard 99-68, Jamie Walker 18-14, Chad Bradford 7-3, John Parrish 12-6, Chris Ray 16-11|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Erik Bedard 11-5, Jamie Walker 1-1, Chris Ray 2-1|
|Batters Faced - Erik Bedard 26, Jamie Walker 4, Chad Bradford 1, John Parrish 2, Chris Ray 4|
|New York Yankees|
|Melky Cabrera, CF-LF||5||1||1||1||0||2||2||.118|
|Derek Jeter, SS||4||1||1||0||0||0||0||.273|
|Bobby Abreu, RF||3||0||1||1||0||0||0||.278|
|Alex Rodriguez, 3B||3||1||1||2||1||0||0||.381|
|Jason Giambi, DH||3||0||0||0||1||2||0||.158|
|Josh Phelps, 1B||4||0||1||0||0||0||3||.250|
|Robinson Cano, 2B||4||0||1||0||0||0||0||.364|
|Miguel Cairo, LF||2||0||0||0||0||0||0||.000|
|a- Jorge Posada, PH-C||2||0||0||0||0||1||1||.389|
|Wil Nieves, C||2||0||0||0||0||0||1||.000|
|Johnny Damon, CF||2||1||2||0||0||0||0||.600|
|a-struck out for Cairo in the 7th|
|3B - Johnny Damon (1, Walker)|
|HR - Alex Rodriguez (4, Bedard)|
|SF - Bobby Abreu (1)|
|RBI - Melky Cabrera (1), Bobby Abreu (2), Alex Rodriguez 2 (11)|
|Team LOB - 6|
|E - Robinson Cano (1, Dropped fly)|
|New York Yankees|
|Darrell Rasner (L,0-1)||4.1||8||5||5||2||2||2||10.38|
|IBB - Gibbons by Scott Proctor|
|Pitches-Strikes - Darrell Rasner 76-44, Sean Henn 16-7, Andy Pettitte 13-7, Scott Proctor 26-12, Mike Myers 27-15, Luis Vizcaino 5-3|
|Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Darrell Rasner 5-6, Scott Proctor 2-2, Mike Myers 1-2|
|Batters Faced - Darrell Rasner 23, Sean Henn 3, Andy Pettitte 4, Scott Proctor 6, Mike Myers 6, Luis Vizcaino 1|
|Attendance - 47679|
|Game Time - 3:16|
|Temperature - 41|
|Umpires - Home - Jerry Layne, First Base - Bill Miller, Second Base - Marvin Hudson, Third Base - Ed Montague|