The Yankees and Orioles traded nine home runs in an offensively-charged contest interrupted by stormy skies, but LaTroy Hawkins could not protect a one-run lead in the 11th, loading the bases before Cintron stroked the game-winning hit toward the warning track, delivering Baltimore a 10-9 win.
"I came in and just let it go, just like that," Hawkins said. "I usually don't get too upset, but a game like this, you want to come in and shut them down from scoring. I didn't do that."
The Yankees had briefly taken a 9-8 lead in the top of the 11th on Hideki Matsui's RBI single off Matt Albers, the first run scored in the seesaw contest since Baltimore tied it with a four-run fifth inning.
Hawkins gave the advantage back as Melvin Mora singled on a 1-2 pitch and then came home on Aubrey Huff's RBI double up the gap in left-center, evening the game at 9. The Yankees elected to intentionally walk the bases loaded, even though Cintron -- who entered as a pinch-runner an inning earlier -- was 4-for-4 lifetime against Hawkins.
"You're playing the percentages," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You're talking about a guy who doesn't play every day. The other guys are everyday players. You're taking a chance that you'll get a ground ball and get a double play."
It was a game in which the Yankees couldn't help but feel defeated at multiple junctures, not only on the fat pitches that left Hawkins growing emotional by his corner locker in the visiting clubhouse and vowing to review videotape immediately.
"We lost it a couple of different ways," Girardi said. "You have two four-run leads and you've got to be able to hold it. You score nine runs and you've got to be able to win the ballgame."
New York battered Orioles starter Brian Burres for eight runs in 3 2/3 innings, including back-to-back homers by Bobby Abreu and Alex Rodriguez in the fourth, chasing the left-hander with consistent contact.
Burres allowed 10 hits, also scoring four times in the second -- a solo home run by Jason Giambi, the 41st ball delivered onto Eutaw Street bordering the warehouse, and then a three-run shot for Johnny Damon inside the right-field foul pole.
Ian Kennedy started for the Yankees but had a brief, injury-marred night, lasting just three innings before serving up back-to-back homers and exiting due to a slightly strained right lat muscle.
Kevin Millar hit a two-run shot and Ramon Hernandez also homered as Kennedy gave back all four of the Yankees' runs from the top of the second inning, then felt his injury grab in the third.
Kennedy didn't have a second chance to keep the lead, lifted after the Yankees' four-run fourth in favor of Ross Ohlendorf, who allowed four runs -- all on homers -- as Baltimore evened the game in the fifth. Mora reached Ohlendorf for a two-run homer, and Luke Scott and Millar went deep back-to-back.
Not that the Yankees didn't have their share of quality relief work. On a night when Girardi said no thought went into using Joba Chamberlain -- who is slated to throw on Wednesday -- the 22-year-old's soon-to-be-former relief mates Edwar Ramirez, Kyle Farnsworth and Mariano Rivera threw 4 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to get the game deep into the Baltimore night.
Farnsworth, in particular, was charmed by good fortune -- with two outs in the seventh, Abreu came up throwing on a Hernandez single and fed it home, where Jose Molina slapped the tag on Millar trying to score from second base, preserving the tie.
Farnsworth also worked out of trouble in the eighth with the go-ahead run on second base, inducing Mora to hit into an inning-ending double play. But a faux pas by Derek Jeter in the sixth summed up the evening for the Yankees -- with A-Rod batting, Jeter got too far off second base and was picked off by reliever Dennis Sarfate, retiring the side.
"Today was just one of those days," Jeter said. "It was a little bit of everything that went on."
In the top of the ninth, Girardi griped with home-plate umpire Doug Eddings, as Damon stood on second base with rain falling heavily. Matsui paused his at-bat, walking back to the dugout in search of a towel to wipe his eyes.
Girardi came out to campaign Eddings, but play continued even as Girardi attempted to appeal to crew chief Dana DeMuth, outstretching his arms. Matsui lined out to first base and the game was then halted for 67 minutes, as Girardi came back on to the field, punctuating the timing of the delay.
"Every game is important and it's a crucial at-bat during the game," Girardi said. "I thought it was raining too hard. Water was dripping off [Matsui's] helmet."
After the skies cleared, Rivera hurled two scoreless frames of relief to get the game to the 11th, when Albers intentionally walked Abreu to get to Rodriguez.
The defending AL MVP smashed a hard grounder, but second baseman Brian Roberts stabbed it, throwing home for one out before the catcher Hernandez fed it to third base for a stunning 4-2-5 double play. Matsui would cash the run a batter later with his hit up the middle, but if Rodriguez's ball had gotten through, two runs likely would have scored.
"I hit that one better than the home run," Rodriguez said. "That's the way it rolls sometimes. He gets his glove up and makes a lucky catch and gets two outs of it.
"It hurts," Rodriguez added. "These are the kinds of games we need to win."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.