The New York Yankees gave themselves some breathing room in the American League East on Saturday. They hope to give themselves even more on Sunday, as they go for a series win against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.
Baltimore closed to within two games of New York in the division with a win in Friday's opener and appeared on its way to dwindling the lead even more on Saturday when it jumped out to an early 3-0 lead.
However, the Yankees rallied and scored three times in the seventh inning to pull out a 4-3 win.
"It was just an outstanding job on their part, taking what they gave us, grinding out at-bats and giving us the lead," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about his team's approach at the plate in the seventh inning.
David Robertson threw a perfect eighth and Rafael Soriano followed with a 1-2-3 ninth to secure his 35th save, as the Yankees halted a two-game skid and increased their AL East lead over Baltimore to three games.
Matt Wieters homered for Baltimore, which had won six of seven entering the contest and also had won its previous 13 one-run games.
"We had some opportunities, but we couldn't get that big two-out hit like we've been getting the past couple of weeks," Orioles outfielder Nate McLouth said.
Robinson Cano clubbed a solo homer for the Yankees, who managed only four hits and lost another player to an injury. Curtis Granderson left the contest after the second inning with a tight right hamstring. Girardi said after the game that it wasn't a strain, and he would see how Granderson feels on Sunday.
Getting the call for the Yankees on Sunday will be righty Phil Hughes, who is 13-11 with a 4.02 ERA. Hughes defeated the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday, holding them to a run and four hits in seven innings. He had allowed just two runs in seven innings of a loss in his previous start and has yielded three runs in his last three outings.
"He did a really nice job again," Girardi said of Hughes. "He's pitched well for us this year, and it's a time where you need distance. He did a really good job. He mixed in all of his pitches tonight. The one homer, he got the ball up in the zone, but he was really good."
Hughes beat the Orioles the last time he faced them and is 5-3 with a 5.00 ERA in 15 games (12 starts) against them.
Chris Tillman takes the hill for Baltimore on Sunday, aiming for his third straight win. Tillman, who has become the de facto ace of this Orioles staff, was terrific in beating the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday, as he allowed only one hit in seven scoreless innings. He did walk four batters, however, but still improved to 7-2 to go along with a 3.26 ERA.
"He was sharp," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's one of those games that you felt like he could have finished if we needed him to."
Tillman allowed four earned runs in five innings in a win over the Yankees the last time he met them, but is 2-3 with an 8.42 ERA in six starts against them.
New York has won seven of 13 meetings with the O's this season.