BALTIMORE-- Starlin Castro homered and drove in three runs, Didi Gregorius slugged a two-run shot and the Yankees roared from behind to celebrate a 7-4 series-opening victory over the Orioles on Monday afternoon at Camden Yards.
With their third straight win and fourth in the last five games, the Yankees closed within 2 1/2 games of the American League East-leading Red Sox, who lost to the Blue Jays on Monday night, while moving three games ahead of the Twins, who lost to the Rays, for the top AL Wild Card. The Orioles now trail the Yankees by 4 1/2 games, the Twins by 1 1/2 and the Angels by one in the Wild Card chase.
"It just shows how big our heart is for the game," Gregorius said. "We always go out there and battle. The team is doing really good, we'll try to keep that going and win as many games right now as we can."
Held hitless through three innings, the Yankees rallied against Orioles starter Dylan Bundy in a three-run fourth inning, highlighted by Gregorius' 20th homer of the season. Castro knocked Bundy out in the fifth inning with a two-run blast, his 13th, which gave the Yankees a lead they would not relinquish.
"I thought Didi's home run got us going," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It looked like we were a little off the first time through the lineup. We were a little late at times. It seemed like we got in a good rhythm, understood what he was trying to do to them and made the adjustments."
Coming off a masterful one-hit shutout against the Mariners, Bundy went four-plus innings in one of his worst outings of the year. The Yankees added on with a pair of runs charged to reliever Miguel Castro in the sixth.
"The whole game really [was a struggle]. I felt the first couple innings I was getting away with stuff and missing my spots, and they were hitting the ball right to people," Bundy said. "That's the type of lineup over there. They don't swing at too many pitches that are borderline pitches, and they fouled off the good ones. Tough team."
Yankees right-hander Chad Green (3-0) continued his dominance, pitching 2 1/3 scoreless innings and striking out four in relief of Jordan Montgomery, who lasted 4 2/3 innings and gave up three runs, including two homers over the first two innings.
"I knew he had that kind of arsenal, but it plays up even better out of the bullpen," Montgomery said of Green. "It's fun to watch him just going up there and striking everybody out."
Tim Beckham connected for his third leadoff homer of the season -- all three coming with Baltimore -- to put the O's up early.
After Gregorius' second-inning error, Chris Davis hit an opposite-field, two-run blast, just out of the reach of a leaping Brett Gardner -- all the scoring the O's would manage until Welington Castillo homered with two outs in the ninth. Castillo now has 19 homers on the year, tying a career high.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Chew on this: Two days after being knocked out of the lineup for an emergency dental procedure, Castro mashed Bundy's first pitch into the left-field seats for a line-drive homer in the fifth inning. Castro enjoyed his 34th multi-hit game of the season and the ninth with three or more hits.
"I go up there and try to have fun, try to get a good pitch to hit and be aggressive," Castro said. "That's what we do now, the whole team. We go up there and fight. We never quit."
"We had a shot there in the eighth, first and second, nobody out and a 2-0 count on Jon," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "Then Robertson did what he's been doing for a long time. Came back and got three big outs."
"I just think it was kind of deflating. I think you could just kind of feel the momentum shift into their dugout. They took it and ran with it. There's a reason they've been at the top or near the top of the division all year. We definitely have our work cut out for us." -- Davis, on watching the Yankees' fourth inning
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS Aaron Judge worked a four-pitch walk in the top of the second inning, marking his 100th base on balls of the season. Judge is the third rookie ever to reach 30 homers, 100 runs scored and 100 walks, joining Ted Williams (1939) and Al Rosen (1950) -- and he is the first rookie to reach 100 walks in a season since Jim Gilliam in 1953. Judge walked four times in the game and is now four shy of Williams' rookie record (107).
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Left-hander CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.71) will try for his fourth straight quality start on Tuesday against the Orioles at 7:05 p.m. ET. Sabathia defeated the Red Sox in his last start, holding them to a run on four hits over six innings. He has allowed 10 runs (nine earned) in 11 2/3 innings vs. the O's this year (6.94 ERA).
Orioles: The series shifts to evening baseball, with Jeremy Hellickson getting the ball. After a solid start with the O's, Hellickson, acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, has struggled recently. The righty has an 8.82 ERA in his past three games. He went 4 2/3 innings and allowed seven earned runs in Thursday's loss to Toronto.