The Baltimore Orioles' promising start to their series against the top team in the AL didn't last, and a second straight loss cost them first place in the East.
The New York Yankees appear to give them a very good chance to regain their winning ways, as they've dropped five in a row overall and five straight to the Orioles.
Baltimore continues its 10-game homestand with three against New York in the teams' first matchup of 2016, starting Tuesday night.
The Orioles (14-10) took the first two against Chicago last week but settled for a split after a pair of ugly losses. They scored 23 runs in the first three before managing one against White Sox ace Chris Sale in a 7-1 defeat Sunday.
Baltimore pitching was pounded for 15 runs and 23 hits in the final two contests, and that allowed surging Boston to jump one-half game ahead in the division by completing a sweep of the Yankees.
Sale lasted only 5 1/3 innings but Nolan Reimold had the lone RBI for the Orioles, who despite getting eight hits fell to 9-3 at home.
The game wasn't the only loss for Baltimore, as shortstop J.J. Hardy left after five innings after fouling a ball off his left foot. A scan taken Monday revealed a hairline fracture that will sideline him 4 to 6 weeks according to manager Buck Showalter.
That came a day after closer Zach Britton departed in the ninth inning with a left ankle sprain. He showed up in the clubhouse Sunday on crutches.
"We knew it wasn't a matter (of) if, it was when. You hope it's if," Showalter said of suffering injuries. "Some teams get real lucky in a year. But it's nothing we can't overcome, and nothing guys won't be back from at some point."
Britton said his ankle isn't sore enough to put him on the DL, but he seems unlikely to pitch in this series.
He might not be missed against light-hitting New York, which did bust out Sunday for its highest run total in 18 games - against Boston ace David Price, no less - but still lost 8-7 for its season-high fifth consecutive defeat. The last-place Yankees (8-15) had totaled five runs over their previous four.
Making matters worse, their usually overpowering bullpen faltered for the second straight day, with Dellin Betances giving up a two-run homer to Christian Vazquez that broke a seventh-inning tie. In the series opener Friday, Betances allowed David Ortiz's tiebreaking two-run shot in a 4-2 defeat.
The only silver lining during the losing streak has been Alex Rodriguez finding his stroke, as he drove in four runs Sunday with his third home run in four games and a two-run double.
''It is frustrating, no question about it,'' Rodriguez said. ''We expect better things from ourselves.''
They'll try for a repeat hitting performance against Chris Tillman (2-1, 3.24), who has given up two runs over 12 2/3 innings with 13 strikeouts in his last two starts. The right-hander has gone 3-1 with a 2.79 ERA in his last six home starts in this series.
He'll be opposed by Luis Severino (0-3, 6.86), whose nightmarish second season continued with a 10-1 loss at Texas on Tuesday. The right-hander gave up six runs in three innings and could be headed for the minors.
"I'm sure it's tough right now, because he's probably never struggled to this level," manager Joe Girardi said. "But that's part of it, too - you've got to fight in this game."
New York hasn't dropped six straight to Baltimore since a seven-game skid in 1997.