Orioles open weekend set with Yankees

( - The Baltimore Orioles try to distance themselves even further from the New York Yankees on Friday when the American League East rivals begin a three-game series at Camden Yards.

Baltimore has won eight of its last 10 and has moved three games in front of the Toronto Blue Jays atop the division. The Yankees sit third, four games back of the O's.

The Orioles picked up their 50th win of the season on Thursday, as they got past Washington, 4-3. Steve Pearce homered in a three-run third inning, while Wei-Yin Chen (9-3) earned the win, allowing three runs on eight hits, while striking out six, over 5 2/3 innings.

"We're confident men right now and we kind of feed off each other to keep that going," reliever Darren O'Day said.

The 91 games was the quickest that Baltimore got to 50 wins since 1997, when it needed only 77 games to get there.

Hoping to keep them in the win column on Friday, the Orioles will turn to righty Miguel Gonzalez, who is 4-5 with a 4.22 ERA. Gonzalez did not get a decision on Saturday in Boston, as he allowed two runs (1 earned) and seven hits over eight innings of his team's 3-2 loss.

"I told myself not to do too much, stay aggressive, down in the zone, especially against a team like this that has a good lineup," Gonzalez said after the game. "We came up a little short. You can't do anything about that. It's baseball."

Gonzalez is 2-2 in eight starts versus the Yankees with a 4.07 ERA.

New York, meanwhile, has won five of eight, but enters on the heels of dropping two of three to the Cleveland Indians following Thursday's 9-3 setback.

"If you have a good series in Baltimore, you go into the break and you're right in the middle of everything with 60-something games to go after that," manager Joe Girardi said. "What you want is an opportunity."

The Yankees, though, may have been still reeling from the loss of Masahiro Tanaka, who will miss at least the next six weeks with a partial UCL tear. The team is hoping that he will heal through rehab, but still have not ruled out Tommy John surgery.

Getting the call for New York on Friday will be its lone healthy starting pitcher from the Opening Day roster, Hiroki Kuroda. With CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda and now Tanaka all on the shelf, the Yankees need a big effort from Kuroda, who is 6-6 on the year with a 4.20 ERA.

Kuroda defeated Minnesota his last time out, as he surrendered four runs and seven hits in 5 2/3 innings.

In eight starts versus the O's Kuroda is 3-3 with a 3.14 ERA. However, he did beat them earlier this year.

Baltimore has won four of its six matchups with the Yankees this season.