Julie Jacobson
July 22, 2015

NEW YORK (AP) Power hitting from their aging sluggers and dominant pitching late in the game. It's been a consistent combination that has the New York Yankees in control of the AL East.

Alex Rodriguez hit the 20th homer of his renaissance season, Mark Teixeira connected for an early two-run shot and the first-place Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 4-3 on Wednesday night to move 11 games over .500 for the first time since Sept. 12, 2013.

Ivan Nova ended the first three-start losing streak of his career, and the Yankees won for the eighth time in 10 games. New York (52-41) has played five one-run games since the All-Star break, winning four without scoring more than four runs in any of them.

''Our bullpen's been a rock all year,'' Rodriguez said. ''Those are the kind of games we're going to have to win in October, so it's good that we're playing well in one-run games.''

Dellin Betances struck out two in a perfect eighth inning, and Yankees pitchers retired 14 straight before Andrew Miller gave up a solo homer to Chris Davis with two outs in the ninth. Miller then struck out Jonathan Schoop for his 22nd save in 22 tries, the left-hander's second in two nights against his former team.

''These are important series because it gives you an opportunity to put some distance between you and the clubs in your division,'' Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.

Ryan Flaherty also homered for the Orioles (46-47), who have dropped 11 of 15.

''We know we are capable of better,'' manager Buck Showalter said. ''For people who live in a minute-to-minute world, I guess they're concerned. We're not.''

Baltimore starter Kevin Gausman (1-2) flashed a 98 mph fastball in his return from the minors but ran into immediate trouble.

The 24-year-old righty, drafted fourth overall out of LSU in 2012, gave up Jacoby Ellsbury's leadoff double on his fourth pitch. Brett Gardner hit an RBI single, and Teixeira sent his 24th home run to the short porch in right near the 314-foot sign.

At that point, Gausman had thrown 12 of 13 pitches for strikes and trailed 3-0. He is 0-5 in his last 11 major league starts.

''I was definitely around the middle of the plate too much there in the beginning,'' Gausman said. ''I know my stuff was good, just had to mix my pitches up better.''

Flaherty hit a two-run shot in the third, but Rodriguez - five days shy of his 40th birthday - launched a fifth-inning drive that soared over the Baltimore bullpen and into the front row of the elevated concrete bleachers in left-center.

''I wish you get more points for distance, but you don't. It's just one point. And tonight it was valuable,'' Rodriguez said.

STATS estimated the drive at 455 feet. A-Rod's 674th career home run gave him 16 seasons with at least 20 - his first since 2010. The three-time MVP sat out last season while serving a drug suspension.

It also was Rodriguez's 3,024th hit, breaking a tie with Hall of Famer Lou Brock for 24th place.

''I was on the record in spring training saying I expected a lot out of him,'' Teixeira said. ''And he's showing that I'm the smartest guy in baseball.''

Making his fifth start since returning from Tommy John surgery, Nova (2-3) yielded three hits in six innings and got help from his defense. Second baseman Stephen Drew made an outstanding play to rob Davis of a hit in the second, and third baseman Chase Headley came through with a sliding stop near the line to keep runners at second and third in the fifth.

Teixeira's tough pick on Headley's one-hop throw to first preserved a 3-2 lead.

''I can't say enough about Tex. To me, he's the MVP of the league on both sides of the ball,'' Rodriguez said. ''Tonight he drove in four runs - two on offense and two on defense. A lot of times it's taken for granted because he's so good and he makes it look so easy.''

STILL IN THE HUNT

Before the game, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said the defending AL East champions will be buyers as the July 31 trade deadline approaches. ''We're still in there. We're still competing,'' he said. ''I think we need pitching and we need more production from our outfield.''

TRAINER'S ROOM

Orioles: INF-OF Steve Pearce was placed on the 15-day DL, retroactive to July 19, with a strained muscle on his left side. He planned to travel back to Baltimore to be examined. Showalter said Pearce suggested the move, knowing the team needed to clear a roster spot for Gausman. ''The timing was good,'' Duquette said.

Yankees: RF Carlos Beltran was back in the lineup after sitting out Tuesday while Chris Young started against a lefty. The 38-year-old Beltran came off the DL on Sunday after missing 12 games with a strained left oblique.

UP NEXT

Orioles: RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (7-5, 3.29 ERA) starts Thursday afternoon as Baltimore tries to prevent a three-game sweep.

Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (6-3, 3.65) has won consecutive starts following a four-game winless stretch.

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