Left-hander Zach Britton goes after a fifth straight win on Sunday when the Baltimore Orioles close out a four-game series with the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.
He'll have to do so, though, without the services of outfielder Nick Markakis, who broke his thumb after getting hit with a CC Sabathia pitch in Saturday's 5-4 win and will miss the remainder of the regular season.
"It's broken. A minimum of six weeks, but it's so preliminary right now," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter after the game. "They'll get some more pictures. ... I knew when I looked at it going out there. I'm sure you guys that have been around Nicky know when he comes out of a game that quick, it's not good. It breaks my heart, personally, and for him. I know how much this time of the season means to him. We'll go forward from there."
The Orioles moved back into a first-place tie with the Yankees with a little help from the umpires on Saturday. Baltimore overcame an early two-run hole thanks to home runs from Lew Ford, J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds, but New York rallied in the ninth.
Holding a 5-3 lead, Orioles closer Jim Johnson gave up back-to-back singles to Ichiro Suzuki and Eric Chavez before Derek Jeter's bunt single loaded the bases with no outs. Nick Swisher plated a run when he grounded into a fielder's choice. Mark Teixeira, who returned to the lineup after missing 10 games with a strained left calf, hit a grounder to second that turned into a game-ending double play. Teixeira appeared to be safe as he slid into first, leading to frustration for New York.
"Sometimes you wonder if the umpires are just trying to get out of there," Teixeira said. "They don't want you to make a comeback. They want to go home, because those are terrible calls."
Then, to add injury to insult, Teixeira aggravated the calf injury and will miss Sunday's finale.
Still, Johnson earned his 42nd save, as the Orioles won for the fifth time in seven tries.
Alex Rodriguez hit a solo homer and knocked in two runs for the Yankees, who have lost seven of their last 10 games. Sabathia (13-5) gave up five runs on eight hits while striking out five over 6 1/3 innings. He fell to 16-4 lifetime against the O's, but failed to hold a lead for the Yankees for the third straight start.
"I feel like I'm letting everybody down, not going out and making pitches I need to make," Sabathia said. "We had a 2-0 lead and I come right back and give it up. That's not me. Hopefully I can correct this thing and go out and pitch well next time."
Britton, meanwhile, won again on Tuesday with a terrific effort in Toronto that saw him scatter four hits over seven scoreless innings. He also struck out eight and ran his record to 5-1 to go along with a 4.15 ERA.
"I think when he misses a few times, he's able to adjust and make a good pitch -- it's not just sort of aim for the middle, he's able to hit a good spot," said O's catcher Matt Wieters.
He has a 0.94 ERA during his four-game winning streak and a 29-7 strikeout-to- walk ratio. Britton had struck out a career-high 10 batters in his previous trip to the hill.
Britton, though, will be looking to avenge his lone loss this season against the Yankees back on Aug.1 when he was pounded for seven runs in just 2 2/3 innings. In five starts against the Yankees he is 1-2 with a 6.95 ERA.
Opposing him will be veteran Freddy Garcia, who is 7-6 with a 5.09 ERA, but is winless in his last three starts. Garcia took the loss on Tuesday against Tampa Bay, as he was hit for five runs and five hits and walked four batters in 5 1/3 innings.
"That's my fault today," said Garcia. "I gave up five runs; we lost, 5-2. Like I say, I don't make the pitch when I need it, and that's why I got hurt."
Garcia lost to the Orioles the last time he faced them and is 6-8 with a 4.34 ERA in 20 games (18 starts) against them.
Despite Saturday's loss, the Yanks have won five of eight in Baltimore this season and 22 of 32 at Camden Yards since last losing a series of at least two games there April 6-9, 2009.
The Orioles have won nine of 17 games with the Yankees this season.