O's aim to draw even closer to Yanks

The Baltimore Orioles try to pull within one game of the New York Yankees in the American League East on Saturday when the division rivals play the middle test of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Baltimore continued its recent success in the Bronx in Friday's opener, as Mark Reynolds hit a pair of homers and Miguel Gonzalez tossed seven scoreless innings to power the O's to a 6-1 win.

J.J. Hardy also hit a solo homer for the Orioles, who improved to 5-2 at Yankee Stadium this season. They haven't had six wins in a season there since going 8-1 in 1976.

Baltimore also concluded the month of August with 18 wins, the most in a month since winning 18 back in September 2004.

Gonzalez (6-3) gave up four hits while striking out nine and walking one for Baltimore, which has won six of seven overall is now just two games back of the Yankees in the division.

"I like pitching against a good, aggressive team I guess," Gonzalez said. "Today, my pitches were really good."

Hiroki Kuroda (12-10) allowed four runs on eight hits over 8 1/3 innings for the Yankees. The Japanese right-hander struck out four and did not issue a walk.

"He made a couple mistakes and they made him pay for it," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

The two-game lead is New York's smallest since it led Baltimore by 1 1/2 games June 22.

Hoping to shrink it even further on Saturday for the O's will be Taiwanese lefty Wei-Yin Chen, who is 12-7 with a 3.78 ERA. Chen did not get a decision on Monday against Chicago, we has allowed two runs (1 earned) and four hits in six innings. He also struck out eight in the in 4-3 win.

"Every game is challenging for me, and every game is challenging for this team," Chen said recently. "Right now, my only hope is to help the team get to the playoffs. That's my only dream right now, my only goal."

He is 2-0 with a 3.71 ERA in his last three starts.

Chen has faced the Yankees twice this season and is 1-0 against them with a 2.84 ERA.

New York, meanwhile, will counter with righty David Phelps, who is 3-4 with a 2.96 ERA. Phelps did not get a decision on Monday against Toronto, but did not pitch well, as he surrendered four runs and five hits in 6 1/3 innings.

This will be Phelps' first-ever start versus Baltimore, but he has faced them three times in relief and is 1-0 without surrendering a run in five innings.

New York has split 12 meetings with the O's this season.