BALTIMORE -- Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday each homered twice and Aaron Judge drove in a pair of runs to support a strong pitching performance by Luis Severino as the Yankees enjoyed a huge early cushion in Tuesday's 8-3 series-evening victory over the Orioles.
The American League East-leading Yanks entered the day second in the AL in runs, but had averaged just 3.36 per game since May 18. They raised that number against O's starter Chris Tillman, with Gardner hitting a leadoff blast and Holliday clearing the fences one out later.
"I think you can ask all our pitchers, they want an early lead they can work with," Gardner said. "Offensively, we got off to such a great start early in the season, and the last week or two we've slowed down a little bit collectively. It's nice to put some runs back up, put some crooked numbers on the board and give Sevvy a lead he's comfortable with."
New York added a run in the second before Holliday belted his second homer of the night off Tillman to help chase the Baltimore righty in the third.
Gardner said that he thought Tillman looked "a little different" than he did before a right shoulder injury forced him to begin the year on the disabled list, but Tillman downplayed that.
"I feel really good, actually," Tillman said. "It's been getting better every start. To be honest with you, I haven't thought about it since I got back here. That's an excuse and that's not one I'm going to use. That's behind me."
Tillman went a season-low 2 2/3 innings and was charged with a season-high five earned runs before being replaced by reliever Logan Verrett. Gardner took Verrett deep as part of a three-run fifth, marking his third multi-homer game of the year.
Severino went 6 1/3 innings, holding the Orioles to one run and striking out eight as he picked up his fourth victory.
"You feel good when he takes the mound," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "You really do because of the stuff that he has. I've seen the improvement in his slider. It's had a lot more depth. When he has the depth to it, it's really tough to hit."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Gardner, Holliday lead offense: Gardner crowed in the dugout after his leadoff homer gave him second place on the team in homers, a mark that Holliday matched later in the first inning. After Holliday's second homer of the game signaled that Tillman was nearing the end of his 59-pitch outing, Gardner answered in the fourth by re-tying Holliday with his 11th homer.
"He just stared at me all around the bases," Holliday said. "We've got a little competition going. It's kind of sad considering I'm about 50 pounds heavier and much, much taller." More >
Severino's shutdown: The right-hander stopped a momentum shift in the second inning, as Chris Davis reached on a one-out single, Trey Mancini laced a two-out single up the middle and Joey Rickard loaded the bases with an infield hit. Severino then struck out J.J. Hardy on a nasty slider that catcher Gary Sanchez threw to first base to complete the final out of the inning.
"Last year, I was missing a lot of spots with my fastball," Severino said. "This year, I feel comfortable with everything; my changeup, my fastball command is good, my slider is great."
"I'm not big on talking about identifying problems. I think they're pretty obvious to everybody, including here and fans. We see the same things with some of our guys, so we've got to figure out why." -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter, on evaluating Tillman's results and arm strength
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Tillman has a 9.00 ERA in the first inning this season and has a career 5.15 ERA in the frame, which is the highest for any inning in his career.
The Orioles won their challenge in the top of the fifth inning, as the initial ruling of safe on Chase Headley at second base on Rob Refsnyder's grounder was overturned. The play, changed to a fielder's choice, had a review time of one minute and 47 seconds.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees:Masahiro Tanaka (5-4, 5.86) will try to replicate the success from his last start last Thursday when he faces the Orioles in Wednesday's 7:05 p.m. ET finale of this three-game series. Tanaka struck out a career-high 13 batters against the Athletics, taking a hard-luck loss after permitting an earned run in 7 1/3 innings.
Orioles: The O's will send Kevin Gausman to the mound on Wednesday, looking to take the series against the Yankees. Gausman tossed his second consecutive quality start at Houston, the first time all season he has thrown back-to-back quality starts. In 6 2/3 innings, he allowed just two runs, but both were homers.