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Orioles 6, Yankees 1

The SportsXchange

NEW YORK -- Before his team raised even more eyebrows with another win Friday night, Buck Showalter's voice remained even keel, but his words were defiant.

He was looking up, not down, he insisted, set on chasing the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East rather than checking who was behind his Baltimore Orioles in the wild card standings.

Before the surprising young Orioles cut the Yankees' lead to just two games with their 6-1 win behind Mark Reynolds' two homers and starter Miguel Gonzalez's gem, Showalter recognized his team was facing a new challenge. He knew the Orioles were heading into the season's final full month in their first pennant race in 15 years, and that so many folks continued to question exactly how they got there.

That they would enter Yankee Stadium with a rookie starter who politely apologized following his postgame interview in the Bronx last month, making a soft-spoken promise he would offer better quotes next time.

But Showalter insisted his players would not be fazed.

"(I told them,) 'Hey, have fun, let's go,' and they will," Showalter said. "They don't take themselves too seriously."

But once again, the Yankees, who have lost nine of their last 14, and the rest of the American League should have to do just that. Baltimore not only cut what had been a 10-game deficit a month-and-a-half ago by eight games, it routed the Yankees. In a spotlight game that could have exposed the Orioles' flaws, Baltimore instead commanded center stage.

Gonzalez (6-3) had nothing to apologize for after a stunning effort, allowing just four hits in seven innings while striking out nine, for his second win in a row in the Bronx.

His teammates were just as impressive, tagging Hiroki Kuroda for a pair of home runs, and jumping on him for three runs on Reynolds' first homer, in the second, before any nerves could settle in.

They added another run on J.J. Hardy's homer in the sixth, giving Kuroda (12-10) two straight losses for the first time since May, and tacked on a pair in the ninth, including Reynolds' second homer.

Gonzalez mixed a dipping curveball with an effective fastball, quickly getting ahead of hitters and not facing any heat until the sixth. He was helped in the third by a diving catch by Reynolds at first.

In the sixth, Gonzalez again refused to wilt in the type of situation many pitchers had this season against the suddenly frigid Yankees.

A single and a walk had put runners on first and second with no one out for Derek Jeter, who battled through a nine-pitch at-bat, the crowd sending a familiar scenario about to unfold. Instead, Gonzalez got Jeter to rap into a fielder's choice. He then continued to make life miserable for Nick Swisher, who fell victim to a diving curveball for his third strikeout in as many at-bats.

Robinson Cano popped out to third and the threat was over.

Darren O'Day pitched a perfect eighth and Brian Matusz gave up Curtis Granderson's home run in the ninth to close it out.

As Gonzalez was throwing zeroes at the Yankees, Kuroda was having his least-effective outing since mid-July.

The Orioles were undaunted early, putting up four hits in the first two innings against Kuroda, who hadn't given up more than three runs in a start since July 13.

Reynolds equaled that number with his three-run shot to left in the second for a 3-0 lead.

While Gonzalez was perfect through three and only gave up one hit through five, Kuroda gave up another homer in the sixth as Hardy hit his 18th of the year, to right, for a 4-0 lead.

NOTES: Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte (fractured left ankle) threw off a mound for the first time since getting injured, saying the 20-pitch bullpen session was not a full-blown one, but "was huge." Pettitte has said he'll need two starts before the postseason to feel he's ready. He'll be evaluated by the training staff before the next step is decided. ... Right-handers David Phelps and Phil Hughes were moved up in the rotation to face the Orioles. Freddy Garcia was bumped back to Tuesday to face the Tampa Bay Rays. Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he liked the way the pitchers have been throwing, so he decided to move them up. ... First baseman Mark Teixeira (strained left calf) "feels better," Girardi said. But the manager said he didn't expect him back until at least next weekend. ... Left-hander Randy Wolf was signed by the Orioles, who will use the long-time starter in the bullpen. Wolf (3-10, 5.69 ERA for Milwaukee this season) has started 366 of his 371 career games. ... The Orioles will activate three September call-ups Saturday: catcher Luis Exposito, utility man Steve Tolleson and outfielder Xavier Avery.

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