(SportsNetwork.com) - The charging New York Yankees will try to take out another American League East foe when they commence a three-game series Friday with the Baltimore Orioles in the Bronx.
The Yankees swept an important three-game series versus the AL East-leading Toronto Blue Jays and trimmed their lead atop the division down to 1 1/2 games. The Yankees completed the trifecta with Thursday's 6-4 win behind steady pitching from David Phelps, who allowed two runs in seven innings with seven strikeouts and two walks.
"We had some big hits and tacked some runs on tonight," said Yankees manager Joe Girardi. "Big performance from David Phelps. He did a great job."
Adam Warren got the final two outs for his second save.
New York had a 6-2 lead after Mark Teixeira scored on a bases-loaded walk by Yangervis Solarte and the final margin came on Edwin Encarnacion's two-run homer in the eighth inning. Carlos Beltran had two RBI, while Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury finished with two hits and an RBI apiece.
The Yankees, winners in seven of nine and nine of the last 13 games overall, have won 16 in a row at home versus the Blue Jays, marking the longest streak since Toronto took 16 straight at home against Baltimore from Aug. 8, 2009- June 15, 2011.
Yankees third baseman Kelly Johnson left the game in the sixth with bruised fingers on his left hand after fouling off a bunt attempt. Girardi said Johnson will be re-evaluated and is day-to-day.
New York is 33-2 when leading after the eighth inning this season and 37-7 when an opponent scores four runs or less.
Taking the mound for the Yanks Friday will be Hiroki Kuroda, who is 4-5 with a 4.32 earned run average. The Japanese right-hander has lost back-to-back starts and was reached for four runs in 4 2/3 innings of a 5-1 setback at Oakland on Saturday.
New York has lost Kuroda's last three trips to the mound and he is 3-3 with a 3.15 ERA in seven career starts against Baltimore. Kuroda defeated the Orioles on April 7 in a 4-2 win, charged with both runs across 6 1/3 frames.
Baltimore won two of three meetings at Tampa Bay and took the series with Wednesday's 2-0 victory over the Rays. Steve Pearce had an RBI double in the fifth inning and Nelson Cruz clubbed his 22nd homer in the eighth to help the Orioles.
Kevin Gausman pitched six shutout innings, struck out five and walked one for the win, and Zach Britton posted his ninth save.
"His main pitch is the fastball. When he commands that pitch, he's unbelievable, like today," Cruz said of Gausman.
Cruz leads the majors in homers and RBI (58).
Baltimore has won five of its last eight games and will pin pitching duties on Ubaldo Jimenez Friday night in the Bronx. The Orioles are 1-6 in Jimenez's last seven starts and he is 0-4 with a 6.21 ERA in his previous six. In last Friday's 4-0 loss to Toronto, Jimenez gave up two runs in six innings to fall to 2-8 with a 4.86 ERA this season.
Jimenez, a right-hander, is 2-2 in seven road starts and 1-4 with a 6.67 ERA in five career starts against the Yankees. Jimenez opposed Kuroda back on April 7 and gave up all four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The Orioles won two of three matchups with New York in the Bronx from April 7-9. The Yankees are 15-1-0 in home season series versus the O's since 1998.