BALTIMORE — When he signed as a free agent in December, Gary Sheffield never intended to be the dominant force in the New York Yankee lineup.
He merely wanted to lend a hand, a modest goal that nevertheless proved to be elusive for the seven-time All-Star over the first two months of the season.
Wednesday night, Sheffield was four for five with a homer and six RBIs and the Yankees used a five-run seventh inning to hand the Baltimore Orioles their sixth straight loss, 12-9.
"Today it was a combination. Everybody contributed, and that's what this team is all about," Sheffield said. "This team is capable of great things, and today we proved that. These guys came back."
In a wild game that featured 30 hits, five home runs and a 65-minute rain delay, the Yankees blew a 7-3 lead by giving up six runs in the sixth, then rallied against the Oriole bullpen in the seventh.
Hideki Matsui started the uprising with a home run off Buddy Groom, and after Enrique Wilson tied it with an RBI single off B.J. Ryan (1-2), pinch-hitter Bernie Williams singled in a run and Derek Jeter doubled. Sheffield then hit a two-run single to make it 12-9.
Sheffield also drew a walk in his most productive outing with the Yankees. The six RBIs were one short of his career high, and he lifted his batting average 16 points to .281.
Sheffield is working on a run of six consecutive seasons in which he's batted over .300.
"I'm starting to feel comfortable, and once you start getting some hits, good things start happening and you gain more confidence," he said.
Tony Clark also homered, and Jeter had three hits for the Yankees, who moved a season-high nine games over .500 (27-18).