Yanks half-game back in AL East after win

Yanks half-game back in AL East after win

NEW YORK -- It seemed as if Michael Pineda and the Yankees were in for a long day on Monday after Pineda allowed four runs to the Orioles in the second inning of the series opener. But the Yanks' offense chipped away to rally behind Pineda and New York ultimately pulled out an 8-6 win. Greg Bird's three-run shot in the seventh off O's lefty Brian Matusz broke open a tie and ended up being the difference-maker for the Yanks, who pulled to within a half-game of the Blue Jays in the American League East.

"He's come up with some really big hits for us and we've talked about him for a couple years as he was rising through the ranks of the Minor Leagues," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of Bird. "He was the MVP of the [Arizona] Fall League last year. That's why we called him up. We thought in [Mark Teixeira's] absence he could make an impact, and he's doing that."

Alex Rodriguez and John Ryan Murphy homered off O's starter Wei-Yin Chen, and Chris Young drove in two runs off the lefty.

"I was really expecting a little more. He had six days. We tried to freshen him up," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Chen. "You've all seen with what we've done with the starting pitching all year. It's more of a mental, emotional fatigue people have this time of year. Everybody in baseball has it if you've treated them properly during the year. We've made a lot of mistakes with 0-2, 1-2 counts for about three or four weeks. Today was another good example of that if you go back through them. We're not making the counts that we get in our favor work for us."

The O's tied the game in the seventh when Manny Machado hit his 27th homer of the season. Jonathan Schoop blasted a three-run homer and Machado picked up an RBI in the second for Baltimore, which has lost 15 of its past 18 games and is now tied for last place in the AL East with the Red Sox.

Young duo steps up: Prior to Monday, Murphy, the backup catcher, had two homers all season. The 24-year-old has played behind Brian McCann and hadn't hit a homer at Yankee Stadium all year. That changed with his two-run shot over the right-field wall in the fifth. As for Bird, he now has five homers since making his Major League debut on Aug. 13. More >

Murphy's two-run homer

Baltimore bats go (mostly) cold: As has been the case for most of the Orioles' tough three-week stretch, one big inning was surrounded by a lot of frustration. The O's got just two runs and three hits outside of the four-run second inning and left the bases loaded in the eighth.

Caleb Joseph -- the final out in the eighth-- was so frustrated that he slammed his bat down vehemently and broke it. He then broke it further as he snapped it over his knee.

"I like that. It shows you are human," Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said of Joseph's strikeout reaction.

Betances pulls through: The Yankees were ahead by three when Dellin Betances faced Joseph in the eighth after walking the bases loaded, and an extra-base hit -- or a grand slam -- certainly would have changed the dynamic of the game. Betances struck out Joseph swinging with an 84-mph knuckle curve.

"I was excited I was able to manage to get that last [out]," Betances said. "I feel good and you just gotta go out there and believe in yourself and get those guys out."

Betances' adventurous 8th inning

Same old story for O's rotation: Chen, who has been the Orioles' most consistent starter this year, is not exempt from the team's recent pitching slide. The lefty watched a 4-1 lead whittle away, allowing a pair of fifth-inning homers. Monday marked just the second time all season Chen has not gone more than five innings in back-to-back starts. It was also the ninth consecutive start an Orioles pitcher didn't complete six innings.

"I think I probably wasn't in my best shape during the past few starts, and when you're getting into a slump you tend to be over-thinking about stuff and trying to not let anyone hit your pitches," Chen said through his interpreter. "I think that's kind of a vicious circle there."

A-Rod's solo shot

"I always seem to find a way to make the fans a little nervous, but I'm just glad we were able to get a win and get that last guy out, but I gotta be better than that." -- Betances, on struggling a bit in the eighth

The Orioles are seven games under .500 for the first time since the end of the 2011 season.

Jones exited Monday's game in the middle of the eighth inning with right shoulder soreness. He has been dealing with the nagging issue since June. More >

"Am I going to play tomorrow? Yeah. What else am I going to do?" Jones said. "If I don't play I just sit here and eat ice cream and bother Buck. So, probably try to get some rest tonight and hopefully it responds, feels better tomorrow."

The Orioles optioned right-handed pitcher Oliver Drake and outfielder Junior Lake to Triple-A Norfolk following Monday's game. The pair will help the Tides in the playoffs.

Orioles: Baltimore will send right-hander Kevin Gausman (2-6, 4.59 ERA) to the mound for Tuesday's 7:05 p.m. ET game against the Yanks. Gausman is coming off the shortest start of his career, lasting just 2 1/3 innings against the Rays while giving up three earned runs on eight hits and two walks.

Yankees: New York will send Masahiro Tanaka (11-6, 3.73 ERA) to the mound Tuesday. Tanaka is 1-1 with a 3.74 ERA in three career starts against the Orioles and is coming off of a win in Boston. Against the Red Sox, Tanaka threw 6 1/3 innings of six-hit, four-run ball. He struck out five.

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Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast. Grace Raynor is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.