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AP - Sports

New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi was eager to see how ace Masahiro Tanaka would recover after losing at Wrigley Field in late May.

The skipper has to like the results for the Japanese right-hander, who has been enjoying the best stretch of his first season in the majors.

Tanaka will try to become the first to reach 12 victories and win a sixth consecutive start Sunday when New York looks to take two of three from the visiting Baltimore Orioles.

Tanaka (11-1, 1.99 ERA) had won 34 consecutive regular-season decisions in Japan and North America before allowing a season-high four runs and eight hits over six innings in a rainy 6-1 loss to the lowly Chicago Cubs on May 20.

Since then, the rookie has allowed five earned runs with 40 strikeouts while winning a season-best five straight outings. He surrendered one run and fanned 10 over six innings in Tuesday's 3-1 home win over Toronto.

Tanaka leads the majors in wins, tops the AL in ERA and is among MLB's leaders with 113 strikeouts. He's also allowed three earned runs or less while working at least six innings in each of his 14 outings.

"What he's done is remarkable," Girardi said. "He wins."

The 25-year-old will try to extend the run by holding down powerful Baltimore (38-35), which ranks among baseball's leaders with 82 homers - including a MLB-best 51 on the road.

"We like hitting home runs," outfielder Adam Jones said.

Jones, Nelson Cruz, Steve Pearce and J.J. Hardy all went deep to help the Orioles end New York's four-game winning streak with Saturday's 6-1 victory. Hardy's home run was his first in 339 at-bats dating to last September.

"I think it probably is a little bit of a relief," he said. "I started to question myself if I ever was going to hit one again."

Cruz, one of the majors' top sluggers with 23 homers, hit one for the second time in three games. He was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Tanaka in a 5-4 road win April 9.

Tanaka did not factor in that decision after giving up three runs and fanning 10 over seven innings in his only meeting with Baltimore.

The Orioles can draw even with the Yankees (39-34) for second place in the AL East with their fourth win in five games. Chris Tillman (5-4, 4.82) seeks his first June win while contributing to a rotation that has posted a 2.04 ERA in the past 12 contests.

Since allowing a 12.56 ERA over his previous four starts, Tillman has given up four runs over 13 innings in his last two. However, he was tagged with the loss in both outings while receiving just one run of support.

The right-hander is 0-4 with a 2.78 ERA at home and 5-0 with a 6.33 ERA on the road. He certainly hasn't fared well at Yankee Stadium, going 2-3 with a 9.62 ERA in six starts.

Derek Jeter is 6 for 13 against Tillman, while Mark Teixeira has gone 4 for 10. Kelly Johnson had success against him last season, going 4 for 10 with a homer and three RBIs.

Former Baltimore infielder Brian Roberts had two hits for the second straight contest Saturday. Teixeira extended his hitting streak to 10 with his 12th home run for the Yankees, who lost for only the third time in 11 games.

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