Yanks Power Toward 1st

The New York Yankees have lost one series since the All-Star break and that came against the Baltimore Orioles.

The surging Yankees look to improve their play against the Orioles and continue their climb toward the top of the AL East standings when the teams open a three-game set Monday at Yankee Stadium.

New York (66-51) won 5-3 at Cleveland on Sunday to complete a three-game sweep of the Indians and improve to a major-league best 23-8 since the All-Star break.

More importantly, the Yankees closed within four games behind division-leading Boston, the closest they've been to first place since April 24.

"We've come full circle,'' Sunday's winning pitcher Andy Pettitte said. "We were just struggling in all aspects of the game a few months ago. It was no fun losing. There's not a whole lot to complain about right now."

The Yankees' last losing series came when they dropped two of three at Baltimore (54-62) from July 27-29. New York, though, is 11-2 since losing the first two games of that set.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made new York -240 money line favorites (MLB Odds) for today's game, the over/under has been set at 9.5 total runs (Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 61% of bets for this game have been placed on New York -240 (View MLB Bet Percentages).

New York, which is opening a seven-game homestand, is just 3-6 against Baltimore. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez, who leads the majors with 39 homers and 114 RBIs, is just 7-for-31 (.226) in those games.

Jason Giambi went 2-for-4 and homered for the second straight game Sunday, Robinson Cano had three hits to raise his batting average to .315 and Melky Cabrera added two hits to extend his career-high hitting streak to 17 games.

Giambi is 4-for-10 with two homers in four games since coming off the disabled list with plantar fasciitis Tuesday. Cano, meanwhile, is 8-for-16 in his last four games, while Cabrera is batting .403 (29-for-72) with 18 RBIs during his streak and .324 (11-for-34) against the Orioles this season.

Chien-Ming Wang (13-6, 3.94 ERA) looks to bounce back from the shortest start of his career when he takes the ball for the Yankees. Wang allowed eight runs and nine hits over 2 2-3 innings in a 15-4 loss at Toronto on Wednesday.

"He was getting behind in some counts, which was uncharacteristic," Yankees manager Joe Torre said.

The right-hander had this start moved up with Roger Clemens serving his five-game suspension for beaning Toronto's Alex Rios in a 9-2 win on Tuesday. Wang had won his three previous outings.

Wang is 3-1 with a 4.82 ERA in eight games - seven starts - against the Orioles and 1-0 with a 6.57 ERA in two starts this season.

Baltimore helped out the Yankees on Sunday by beating Boston 6-3 in 10 innings to take two of three from the Red Sox.

Miguel Tejada hit a two-run, game-tying homer in the eighth inning and Kevin Millar won the game with a three-run shot in the bottom of the 10th for Baltimore, which is 5-8 since winning six straight from July 22-28.

"You dream of playing in the big leagues, you dream of hitting a game-winning home run," said Millar, who was 3-for-5.

Millar is 8-for-16 with four RBIs lifetime against Wang.

Rookie Jeremy Guthrie (7-4, 3.22) looks to beat the Yankees for a second straight time when he takes the mound for Baltimore. Guthrie is 1-0 with a 2.92 ERA in two starts against New York this season.

The right-hander, who is 6-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 19 starts in 2007, allowed five earned runs and eight hits in four innings of an 8-4 loss to Seattle on Wednesday.

"He had a bad night. He's entitled to it," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

Guthrie is 5-0 with a 2.70 ERA on the road this year.

by: Dave Michaels - thespread.com – Email Us

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