Chris Tillman threw seven-plus dominant innings to pick up his 16th win of the season, and the Baltimore Orioles took the opener of an important four-game series with the New York Yankees by posting a 4-2 victory at Camden Yards.
Tillman (16-5) served up solo homers to Alex Rodriguez and Lyle Overbay, but gave up only two other hits while matching a career high with nine strikeouts and not walking a batter.
Nick Markakis paced Baltimore at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance that included an RBI single to help the Orioles to a fourth win in five outings and close within 1 1/2 games of Tampa Bay for the AL's second wild card berth.
"It's big, this time of year it's real big," said Tillman on the importance of these games down the stretch. "Every game I pitch is big, I only get to go out there every fifth day, so for me they're all big."
The Yankees, on the other hand, have dropped four of five and trail the Rays by three games in the chase.
CC Sabathia (13-12) tossed 7 1/3 solid innings for New York in a losing cause, allowing four runs -- three earned -- and striking out six.
"We didn't score runs, if we had been scoring runs like we've been the last week he gets a win tonight," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi about Sabathia.
Rodriguez quickly got the Yankees on the board with an opposite-field blast in the top of the first, but Tillman yielded just two singles over the next six innings and entered the eighth having set down 14 consecutive New York hitters.
Sabathia also permitted a first-inning run, as Markakis stroked a ground-rule double to right center to open Baltimore's half of the frame and later came around on Adam Jones' sac fly, then proceeded to hold the Orioles scoreless until encountering trouble in the fifth.
J.J. Hardy led off with a double and was pushed to third on a groundout before easily scoring the go-ahead run on Matt Wieters' deep fly ball to center. Alexi Casilla then singled, stole second, and crossed the plate when Markakis shot a base hit up the middle for a 3-1 Baltimore lead.
The Orioles increased the margin with an unearned run in the seventh. Wieters drew a leadoff walk and took second on a Sabathia throwing error, with Manny Machado driving him in with his 49th double of the season.
Overbay ended Tillman's run -- and his evening as well -- by sending a pitch well into the right-field seats to begin the eighth. Tommy Hunter and Jim Johnson kept the Yankees at bay the rest of the way, with the latter notching his AL-best 43rd save after getting Curtis Granderson to fly out to the warning track in center with a man on for the final out.
Managers Joe Girardi and Buck Showalter engaged in a heated argument prior to the start of the second inning, with both having to be restrained by the umpiring crew, though no ejections were issued. Showalter had taken exception to Girardi jawing with Orioles third base coach Bobby Dickerson, believing he had been stealing signs from the Yankees' dugout.
Tillman became the first Orioles hurler since Mike Mussina in 1999 to win 16 games ... The Yankees lost their sixth straight game at Camden Yards and are 1-6 at the venue this season ... New York fell for only the third time in its last 18 contests when hitting at least one home run ... Casilla, who went 1- for-3, is 17-for-34 lifetime against Sabathia ... Rodriguez has homered three times in 10 career at-bats against Tillman.