Hiroki Kuroda goes after his third straight win on Wednesday when the New York Yankees play the rubber match of their three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.
Kuroda has been the Yankees' best pitcher this season and showed why on Friday, as he limited the Toronto Blue Jays to two hits over eight scoreless innings to run his record to 6-2, while lowering his ERA to 1.99.
"Tonight was not a whole lot different from what we've seen all year," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Kuroda. "He expects to do well. ... He's been so good for us."
Kuroda tossed a five-hit shutout to beat the O's back on April 14 and is 2-1 in three starts against them with a 1.85 ERA.
Baltimore, meanwhile, will counter with righty Jason Hammel, who lost for the first time in seven starts on Friday. Hammel lasted just 4 2/3 innings against the Tampa Bay Rays in that one and allowed seven runs and 10 hits to fall to 5-2, while raising his ERA to 5.72.
"I'm missing out over the plate, arm-side with my fastball," Hammel said after his most recent start. "It's a pretty simple fix, but for right now, it's seemingly a little bit difficult for me.
"But I've been here. I've figured it out before, so I'm not going to continue to beat myself up. I'll just get back to work and we'll move on."
Hammel beat the Yankees the last time he faced them and is 2-3 with a 5.82 ERA in 15 games (9 starts).
Baltimore evened this series at a game apiece on Tuesday, as Nate McLouth's leadoff home run in the bottom of the 10th inning halted the Orioles' longest losing streak at Camden Yards in five seasons, with the blast giving the host team a 3-2 triumph.
McLouth belted the third pitch thrown by Vidal Nuno (1-1) deep into the seats in right center to stop Baltimore's season-high six-game skid, with all the losses coming at home. The slide was the Orioles' longest in Baltimore since dropping 11 in a row from Aug. 22-Sept. 7, 2007.
"We really needed this win," said outfielder Chris Dickerson, who provided the rest of Baltimore's offense with a pair of solo homers while finishing 3- for-4. "Everything is about momentum, and Nate came up huge, and those are the things that it takes to turn things around."
Miguel Gonzalez contributed seven strong innings for the Orioles in his first start since May 3. The right-hander, activated from the disabled list prior to the game, held the Yankees to a pair of runs on five hits without a walk.
"Having that rest helped me out a little bit," said Gonzalez afterward.
Jim Johnson (2-4) recorded the win with a perfect top of the 10th, one night after the Baltimore closer blew his third consecutive save in Monday's 6-4 extra-inning loss to New York.
New York took two of three from the Orioles at home earlier this season and went 7-4 at Camden Yards in 2012, including the teams' AL Division Series matchup.