CC Sabathia can extend the New York Yankees' lead atop the American League East on Saturday when they continue a four-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Sabathia did not get a decision on Monday against Tampa Bay, as he allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings. He's 13-4 on the year to go along with a 3.42 ERA.
Since winning six decisions over a nine-start stretch, Sabathia is 0-1 over his last two outings, but still has only allowed more than three runs once in his previous 10 trips to the hill. Still, he's been unable to hold a lead in either of his last two starts.
"It's frustrating, especially after the last outing, not being able to hold the lead," Sabathia said on Monday. "I've just got to be a lot better than I was."
Sabathia stands a good chance at getting himself right, as he owns a 16-3 lifetime mark against the O's with a 2.97 ERA in 24 starts. However, he lost to them the last time he faced them.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with left-hander Joe Saunders, who was brilliant in beating Toronto his last time out. Saunders carried a perfect game into the sixth inning on Monday, before No. 9 hitter Adeiny Hechavarria broke it up with a two-out single up the middle. He left after scattering three hits over 6 1/3 scoreless innings.
It was a sharp contrast from his first start with the Orioles which saw him give up seven runs (6 earned) on 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to the Chicago White Sox.
"When I got traded over here, they had a great thing going and you just want to come over here and contribute as much you can," said Saunders, who was acquired from Arizona on Aug. 26. "You don't want to mess it up and get blown up a lot. You want to keep the team in the ballgame, give the team a chance to win and that's what I was able to do today."
Saunders has faced the Yankees five times and is 2-1 with a 6.28 ERA.
New York regained sole possession of first place in the division on Friday with an 8-5 victory.
Baltimore pulled even atop the division with a 10-6 win on Thursday, but home runs by Russell Martin, Steve Pearce and Alex Rodriguez off Wei-Yin Chen (12-9) sparked the rout and evened the pivotal series.
"We're a tough team. We've got guys that have been in tough situations," said Martin of the Yankees suddenly finding themselves in a pennant race after leading the Orioles by 10 games on July 18. "It feels like the playoffs."
Phil Hughes (14-12), five days removed from suffering a loss to the Orioles, earned the win with six quality innings on the hill.
"The slider was a good pitch for me," Hughes said. "It got me out of some jams. Really, I just tried to get us through some clean innings early and tried to give us a chance to get the lead."
On the injury front, the Yankees expect to have first baseman Mark Teixeira back in the lineup on Saturday. He tested his strained left calf on Friday and said he felt better than 80 percent, but was advised to rest for one more day.
Despite Thursday's loss, the Yanks have won five of seven in Baltimore this season and 22 of 31 at Camden Yards since last losing a series of at least two games there April 6-9, 2009.
The Yankees have split 16 games with the O's this season.