Mussina looks to earn his sixth straight victory and also extend the Yankees’ winning streak to six when they continue a three-game weekend series with the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.
New York (65-41) leads the Boston Red Sox by one game in the AL East for the second straight day after both clubs won Friday night. Jorge Posada homered off Orioles closer Chris Ray to break a ninth-inning tie and send the Yankees to their fifth win in a row, 5-4 in the series opener.
New York has won nine of its last 10 games and is a major league-best 15-5 since the All-Star break.
“This is pretty amazing. Early on we had a lot of inconsistency,” said Yankees center fielder Johnny Damon, who homered leading off Friday’s win. “Now we’re putting it together. Guys are finding ways. It’s kind of fun. We feel like we’re in the driver’s seat.”
The 37-year-old right-hander, who spent his first 10 major league seasons with Baltimore from 1991-2000, is 5-0 with a 3.35 ERA and .213 opponent batting average over his last seven starts.
Mussina won seven straight decisions over a 10-start stretch from April 19-June 5.
He has yet to face the Orioles this season, but is 9-4 with a 4.13 ERA in 18 career starts against his former club. Mussina is also 77-40 with a 3.62 lifetime ERA at Camden Yards, making him the winningest pitcher in the history of the ballpark.
Mussina matched his victory total from last season in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Tampa Bay, when he gave up two runs and five hits in seven innings while matching a season high with eight strikeouts.
The Orioles (49-61) counter with rookie left-hander Adam Loewen (1-3, 6.44), who must be growing accustomed to matching up with top-caliber pitchers. Loewen’s first four major league starts in June came against former Cy Young Award winners Randy Johnson, twice versus Roy Halladay and Tom Glavine.
The outing against Johnson, on June 3 at Camden Yards, was Loewen’s first start in the majors. The 22-year-old British Columbia native yielded four runs— three earned—and six hits in five innings, but did not receive a decision as New York went on to a 6-5 victory in 10 innings.
He also struggled with his control, walking four batters and hitting another while throwing 102 pitches.
Loewen lost to Seattle on Monday, allowing five runs—four earned—in six innings of a 10-5 defeat. The outing marked the first time in his eight career starts that Loewen made it through the sixth inning.
Baltimore signed veteran catcher Chris Widger Friday to replace Javy Lopez, who was traded to Boston earlier in the day for a player to be named. Widger, who will serve as backup to Ramon Hernandez, did not appear in Friday’s game.
Widger batted .184 (14-for-76) in 27 games this season with the Chicago White Sox, who released him on Tuesday.
Friday’s defeat was the second in a row for the Orioles, who fell to 2-5 on their nine-game homestand.