BATLIMORE — On most occasions, the Baltimore Orioles would be delighted to split four games with the New York Yankees.
Not this time. Not after winning the first two games and giving the Yankees all they could handle Monday night in a 3-2 loss.
Alfredo Simon gave up three runs and four hits in seven innings, but New York's Freddy Garcia was even better and cost Baltimore a chance to win a four-game series from New York for the first time since 1997.
"We played really solid baseball all four games," said Mark Reynolds, who hit his 31st homer for the Orioles. "We caught the ball well behind guys, we swung the bats pretty decent and we pitched pretty well. Seems like they got the extra hit that we didn't get the last two games, and they came out on top."
It was New York's second straight win without third baseman Alex Rodriguez and shortstop Derek Jeter. Rodriguez will join the team in Boston on Tuesday after getting an MRI on his sore left thumb in New York, and Jeter rested a bruised right knee but was available "in case of an emergency," manager Joe Girardi said.
Swisher made sure Jeter stayed on the bench. His 21st homer, the sixth in seven games, gave New York a 3-0 lead.
"Obviously when you're in that situation, you want to be the guy to try and step up," Swisher said. "I know everyone in the lineup is stepping their game up a little bit."
Mark Teixeira doubled in a run to help New York move within 1½ games of the first-place Red Sox in the AL East. The Yankees next face Boston for a three-game set in Fenway Park, and they'll bringing some momentum with them.
"I always use the word tenacity, but to come in here and lose those first two games, and the way we bounced back to win these last two is huge," Swisher said. "That's great baseball, especially heading into a big series this week."
After being sidelined for three weeks with a cut right index finger, Garcia (11-7) allowed one run and two hits over six innings to win his fourth straight decision. The right-hander is 4-0 with a 1.72 ERA in his last five starts.
"He throws pitches in counts where you are not looking for them. He stays away," Reynolds said. "You think he's going to give you a pitch to hit. He never really does."
Baltimore's only hits against Garcia were a first-inning double by Adam Jones and a solo homer by Reynolds in the fifth. The homer was the first against Garcia in 11 starts since June 7.
J.J. Hardy also homered for Baltimore. It was his 26th of the season, tying a career high set with Milwaukee in 2007.
But the Orioles came up a run short, and playing well in defeat was no consolation.
"Nobody's happy with a split," manager Buck Showalter said. "But that's a good baseball team, playing a real meaningful game. And you can see how close it is; those small things. It's close, but I don't think anybody's satisfied in there, and neither am I."
The Orioles closed to 3-2 when Hardy connected on an 0-2 pitch from David Robertson in the eighth, the first run allowed by Robertson on the road this season. Baltimore then got a runner to second with two outs before Robertson struck out Jones.
Mariano Rivera worked a perfect ninth to complete the three-hitter and earn his 34th save.
New York got a first-inning run against Simon (4-7) when Curtis Granderson walked and scored his major league-leading 122nd run on a double by Teixeira.
In the fourth, Robinson Cano hit a one-out single before Swisher hit Simon's next pitch over the 25-foot scoreboard in right.
Garcia retired 11 straight batters before Reynolds homered.
NOTES: To make room for Garcia, the Yankees optioned reliever Hector Noesi to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. ... Hardy extended his hitting streak to 12 games. ... The Yankees send CC Sabathia (17-7) to the mound Tuesday night in the opener of a three-game series against the Red Sox. New York is 2-10 against Boston this season, 2-4 at Fenway Park. ... Baltimore begins a three-game set against Toronto on Tuesday night. The Orioles will start RHP Jeremy Guthrie (6-16), whose 3.62 career ERA against the Blue Jays is the best against any AL East foe.