Baltimore, thanks mostly to Markakis, had built a 5-0 lead after 4 1/2 innings, but the Yankees scored a run in the bottom of the 5th, two more in the 6th and another in the 7th, cutting the lead to a single run. When Jorge Posada homered in the bottom of the ninth, the O's were caught and the Yanks overtook them with a Nick Swisher sac fly in the bottom of the 10th, plating Mark Teixeira with the game winner.
The loss exposed the weakness of Baltimore's bullpen, which allowed three runs in 3 2/3 innings, and the strength of the Yankees', which gave up just four hits and no runs over the final 5 2/3 after starter Phil Hughes lasted only 4 1/3 innings.
With the win, the Yankees assume the position they feel is rightfully theirs, forever and for all time, atop the AL East, with a one game lead over the O's and 1 1/2 edge over Toronto.
Now that the Yankees are in first place, they host the top representative from the AL West, the Texas Rangers, who hold a two-game bulge over the Angels, for a three-game weekend series beginning Friday night.
Proof of how good the Philly starters are was on display Thursday as Cliff Lee took to the mound against the Washington Nationals. All Lee did was toss a complete-game, three-hit shutout, strike out 12 batters - including a string of 7 of 8 in succession between the 6th and 8th innings - for a 4-0 Philadelphia win, his sixth shutout in the last four years.
After losing their first meeting, 7-4, the Phillies came back to take the remaining two games of the series at Washington and now head home to face another divisional foe, the Florida Marlins, in a three-game series beginning Friday.
Lee walked one batter as he improved to 2-1 on the season.