(SportsNetwork.com) - The Baltimore Orioles can further distance themselves from the New York Yankees in the AL East when the division foes tangle Monday in the opener of a three-game series at Camden Yards.
The Orioles are five games ahead of Toronto and six games in front of New York for the AL East lead but their bats were cooled off in Sunday's 8-3 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. The Orioles failed to pull off a three-game sweep and starting pitcher Kevin Gausman suffered the loss with three runs allowed over five innings.
"I did a good job bouncing back in the second inning, but that first inning was a rough one," said Gausman. "It kind of seemed like wherever they hit the ball, we didn't have a guy there."
Zach Britton gave up three runs in the ninth inning with the Cardinals holding a 5-3 lead. Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal had a five-run advantage to work with in the bottom half and set Baltimore down in order.
Nick Markakis had four hits, an RBI and two runs scored, while Manny Machado posted two hits for the Orioles, who had won three in a row and six of seven games. The Orioles, though, are still 24-11 since July 1 and 13-5 at Camden Yards since June 30. Before Sunday's series finale, 17 of the 22 runs scored versus the Cardinals came via home run.
Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph was 1-for-4 and had homered in his previous five games. Joseph has a six-game hitting streak and is batting .409 with nine RBI in that span. The Orioles snapped a streak of eight consecutive games with a home run, the second-longest stretch of the season behind a 12-game barrage from June 21-July 2.
Baltimore has posted 10 or more hits in three straight games and turned the trick five straight times from May 18-23. The club had scored nine or more runs in three of the past five games before Sunday's finale and has won seven series in a row.
Looking to get Baltimore back on track Monday will be starter Bud Norris, who is 9-7 with a 3.68 earned run average. Norris was victorious in his latest outing, a 9-3 win at Toronto in which he gave up two runs in 5 1/3 innings with six strikeouts and two walks. Norris improved to 6-2 in his last eight decisions.
Norris has a 4-2 record in eight home starts and faced the Yankees on June 21 in a 6-1 win in the Bronx. It was Norris' first career start against the Yankees and held them to a run and three hits in five innings.
Meanwhile, the Yankees lost two of three at home versus the Cleveland Indians this weekend and will play their next six games on the road against Baltimore and Tampa Bay.
The Yankees had won three straight and six of seven games until losing the last two installments of the Cleveland series, including Sunday's 4-1 setback. The usually reliable Hiroki Kuroda was dealt the loss for giving up three runs in 4 2/3 innings and walked four batters with three strikeouts.
"He wasn't sharp with his split," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said about Kuroda. "He battled today. He kept us in the game."
Jacoby Ellsbury went 2-for-4 with a home run for New York, which went 4-3 on the homestand and sits 2 1/2 games out of a wild card spot. Derek Jeter, who is sixth on the all-time career hits list, finished 0-for-4 with a strikeout.
Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup for the first time since August 6 because of a finger injury and went 1-for-4.
"I'm happy with the way it's feeling the last two days, so hopefully it just keeps getting better," Teixeira said.
Chris Capuano will make his fourth start for the Yankees Monday and is 0-1 with a 2.84 ERA in his first three appearances with the club. Capuano did not factor in the outcome of a 5-1 win over Detroit on Wednesday and was reached for one unearned run over 6 2/3 innings.
Capuano, a left-hander, will make his first career start against the Orioles and has faced them three times in relief, posting no record and a 4.91 ERA over 3 2/3 innings.
The Yankees are 3-6 against Baltimore this season and will face them seven more times after this set.