The Baltimore Orioles have been one of baseball's biggest surprises precisely because they have mostly avoided results like their most recent one.
They'll try to bounce back Sunday by winning their third series in as many visits to Yankee Stadium this year while pulling back within two games of the New York Yankees.
Leading by two runs with two outs in the seventh inning Saturday, the Orioles (73-59) seemed primed to set up a Sunday showdown that would have given them a chance at their first sweep in the Bronx in 26 years and a share of the AL East lead.
Instead, a cluster of walks and a rare error by J.J. Hardy - the sixth of the year for the sure-handed shortstop - helped the Yankees (76-56) to a three-run rally and a 4-3 win to restore their division lead to three games.
"We're just going to come back," said Baltimore reliever Pedro Strop, who walked in the tying run. "We've got another 1 o'clock game tomorrow, and we don't have time to be thinking about it."
The defeat ended a streak of 13 straight victories in one-run games for Baltimore, which is still 24-7 in such contests, a huge reason the club is in position for its first playoff berth in 15 years.
"It's not one of those things that we're going to dwell on. This could have been. That should have been. That would have been," manager Buck Showalter said. "We understand that. These guys will turn the page."
The Orioles are trying to turn the page on their dismal recent history. They've finished last each of the past four years in a division the Yankees have won 11 times since Baltimore last captured it in 1997.
Derek Jeter has been a part of all of those New York teams, and the Yankees' experience may be an asset down the stretch.
"If you win, they say experience helps," Jeter said. "If you lose, they say you don't have enough youth.
"You don't look at the standings," he added. "If we play well, we'll be fine."
The Orioles, whose lead for the second AL wild card is at 1 1/2 games over Tampa Bay, turn to Chris Tillman (7-2, 3.26 ERA) as they try to take two of three in the Bronx for the third time this year. They entered 2012 with a 6-21 record at the new Yankee Stadium.
Tillman has an 8.42 ERA in six career starts against the Yankees, but he won July 31 in New York thanks to some generous run support. He allowed five runs in five innings of an 11-5 victory.
The right-hander is coming off one of the best outings of his career, yielding one hit - an infield single - over seven innings of a 6-0 win over the Chicago White Sox on Tuesday.
"Tillman shut down one of the game's best offenses," teammate Adam Jones said. "Those guys are hitting. He shut that lineup down."
The Yankees certainly have one of baseball's best lineups, but they may not have Curtis Granderson in Sunday's version after he left Saturday's game with tightness in his right hamstring.
Phil Hughes (13-11, 4.02) will be on the mound looking to win a seventh consecutive decision at Yankee Stadium, where he's 10-3 with a 3.25 ERA this year.
The right-hander has won four straight home starts and is 6-0 in the last seven with a 1.62 ERA. He beat the Orioles in the Bronx on Aug. 1, allowing one run in six innings of a 12-3 victory.
Hughes has gone seven innings in three consecutive starts while allowing a combined three earned runs.
- the Orioles
- Baltimore Orioles