Brendan Ryan has kept his mustache long after all his teammates abandoned their good-luck growth. Perhaps it was the oft-injured infielder's way of feeling part of the Yankees while he spent so much time away from the ballclub.
Well, it could be time to shave: He found a new way to fit in.
Ryan hit a tiebreaking RBI double in the sixth inning, helping New York beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 Tuesday night in the opener of a series between AL East rivals.
"It's been very frustrating for me that I cannot prove my value," he said.
Alex Rodriguez had a sacrifice fly and Chase Headley an RBI double off Wei-Yin Chen (4-6) on the Taiwanese left-hander's 30th birthday. The Yankees moved 10 games over .500 (51-41) for the first time since Sept. 13, 2013.
Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury made a running, over-the-shoulder catch with a runner on second in the seventh to preserve the win for Justin Wilson (3-0) in relief of Nathan Eovaldi. New York opened a five-game lead in the division over Baltimore, which fell to .500 at 46-46.
Eovaldi held Baltimore hitless until Adam Jones singled under the glove of charging shortstop Didi Gregorius with two outs in the fourth. The right-hander reached 100 mph on his second and fourth pitches of the game and shut down the Orioles until he faded in the sixth, allowing a two-out RBI single to Matt Wieters.
Wilson relieved and yielded a run-scoring hit to J.J. Hardy but Wieters was caught in a rundown between second and third, ending the inning with the score tied 2-all.
"I think Matt was assuming that there was, as short as it is in right field here, he thought there'd be a play at the plate," manager Buck Showalter said.
Dellin Betances entered after Ellsbury's catch and struck out Manny Machado with a runner on third to end the seventh and preserve a one-run lead.
Betances pitched the eighth, and Andrew Miller got three outs against the team he helped win the East last season for his 21st save in 21 chances.
In the bottom of the sixth, Gregorius singled off Chen with two outs and Ryan followed with a double down the third base line for the lead.
Ryan spent two extended stints on the disabled list this season and has made just four starts. He has an RBI in three of them.
"I'm sure it meant a lot" to him, manager Joe Girardi said. "It meant a lot to our club, too."
Chen gave up three runs and 10 hits in 6 1-3 innings. He had not allowed more than two earned runs in seven straight starts.
Ellsbury broke up Chen's birthday party with a double to start the first. Brett Gardner bunted Ellsbury to third and A-Rod hit a fly to left for a run.
"I wasn't able to control the situation as I wanted to in the first couple innings," Chen said through a translator.
A 15-minute rain delay pushed back the start of the bottom of the second. When play resumed, Brian McCann and Chris Young singled and Headley had a run-scoring double. The Yankees had second and third and none out but Chen settled and retired the side.
Gregorius and Ryan each made out in the second.
"He's a lot of fun," Headley said of the energetic Ryan. "You feel good for him when he comes back with a big hit."
Yankees: Carlos Beltran, who came off the disabled list Sunday, was given the night off in order to get Young in the lineup against the left-hander. The 38-year-old Beltran didn't have an issue with the move, acknowledging he's not 22 anymore. "The whole body feels refreshed," Beltran said after getting some extra rest.
Orioles: Kevin Gausman will be recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to start against New York. The team's No. 1 pick in 2012 has been up and down several times since coming off the DL June 20. He is 1-1 with a 5.00 ERA in 11 appearances (three starts) for Baltimore this season.
Yankees: Ivan Nova (1-3) is set to make his fifth start since returning from Tommy John surgery on June 24. He's lost three straight starts.
Gardner wore a pair of white cleats Sunday with gold highlights at the urging of teammate CC Sabathia. That sartorial choice got him a warning from MLB for violating uniform rules. His cleats needed to at least closely match the color of his teammates' spikes, and everyone on New York wears mostly black shoes. "It was fun, but a one-time thing," Gardner said.