Winners of two straight and three of the last four, the Baltimore Orioles try to put even more distance between themselves and the New York Yankees Saturday as the clubs meet for the second of a three-game set at Camden Yards.
Like every other team in the American League East, the Orioles continue to trail the Boston Red Sox for the top spot in the standings, but at least Baltimore is two games ahead of the Yankees following a 4-3 victory on Friday.
After falling behind 3-0 in the third inning, the Orioles went to work and held the visitors scoreless the rest of the way, thanks to the combined efforts of Kevin Gausman and Tommy Hunter out of the bullpen as the duo scattered four hits and struck out seven in 6 2/3 innings of work. Gausman, who was rewarded with his first win of 2013, took over for starter T.J. McFarland who permitted three runs on seven hits and a walk, fanning four, over a mere 2 2/3 innings before being pulled.
Nate McLouth hit a two-out, solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning in order to put the O's on top for good. McLouth finished with two of the team's five hits and scored twice. Now hitting .318 on the campaign, Manny Machado came up with two RBI.
Shooting for the 200th win of his career as he started his 400th game, Yankees hurler CC Sabathia was tagged with the loss instead as he gave up four runs on five hits, striking out six, over seven innings of action.
"It's super-frustrating," Sabathia said. "We've been battling and scuffling all year, dealing with injuries and everything. For us to come out here and put up three [runs] against a tough team and not be able to hold it late in the game is extremely frustrating. I have to get better."
New York registered 11 hits in the meeting, but also the same number of strikeouts, three of the latter being logged by Alberto Gonzalez who is now batting just .150 on the season. Robinson Cano accounted for three hits and Brett Gardner two more for a Yankees squad that is 5 1/2 games off the pace in the division.
Originally slated to start last night's game, David Phelps was moved to Saturday in favor of Sabathia. The Notre Dame product, now in just his second season in the majors, hasn't pitched since June 21 when he captured a win against Tampa Bay at home.
Phelps, a right-hander from Missouri, lasted 5 2/3 innings versus the Rays, scattering eight hits which resulted in two runs, while striking out four as he moved back over .500 for the campaign. In his last two outings, Phelps has surrendered a total of 17 hits through 11 2/3 innings.
Against the O's, Phelps has a 1-0 mark with a 4.08 ERA in two starts and six appearances overall.
Trying to keep from falling to .500 for his career, which is now in its third year in the majors, Zach Britton takes the ball for the hosts tonight. Britton has seen very little time with the big club so far this season, appearing in just his fourth game when he takes the ball on Saturday.
On Monday, Britton was involved in his first home game of 2013 for the O's, going up against a Cleveland club which managed three runs on six hits and three walks as the hurler hung in for five innings before exiting. Britton struck out five, two more than he had in his first two games of the season combined, but still he was dealt his second setback of the campaign.
For his brief career, Britton has a mark of 1-3 with a bloated 7.82 ERA in six starts versus the Yankees.
Baltimore, which managed to split 18 meetings with New York last season after being beaten soundly by a combined 26-10 in the previous two campaigns, now owns a 4-3 edge in the series in 2013.