Ibanez lifts Yankees over Orioles

RAUL IBANEZ delivered two clutch homeruns into the New York Yankees’ postseason lore and a dagger to into the heart of the Baltimore Orioles Wednesday night (Thursday morning in Manila).

He lined a tying home run while pinch hitting for slumping Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning, then hit a walk-off homer while leading off the 12th to give the Yankees a thrilling 3-2 win and a 2-1 lead in their AL division series.

Batting for baseball’s highest-paid player, Ibanez homered to right-center with one out in the ninth inning off major league saves leader Jim Johnson to make it 2-all. He connected on the first pitch from Brian Matusz in the 12th.

His feat made him the first player to homer twice in a postseason game in which he didn’t start according to STATS LLC.

Phil Hughes will try to clinch it for the Yankees on Thursday night in Game 4 of the best-of-five series. Joe Saunders will start for Baltimore.

Baltimore had won 16 straight extra-inning games, and had been 76-0 when leading after seven, before the Yankees stung them.

”It was a great experience. We do it as a team. We stay after it,” Ibanez said. ”I’m blessed to come up and have the opportunity like that. We do it together. it’s about a team and about winning.”

Ibanez got that chance after Yankees manager Joe Girardi made the decision to bat for Rodriguez – the first time A-Rod had ever been pinch-hit for in a postseason game, according to STATS. Noli Cruz

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