The New York Yankees are back in sole possession of first place after defeating the Baltimore Orioles 8-5 on Friday night. The Yankees offense hammered Baltimore starter Wei-Yin Chen to quickly jump out to a 7-0 lead in the fifth inning. Russell Martin, Steve Pearce, and Alex Rodriguez all went deep for the Bronx Bombers, chasing Chen in the fifth and giving starter Phil Hughes a nice cushion to work with.
Chen looked to be in control the first time through the order, but it quickly got away from him when the Yankees came around a second time. He started the fourth inning by hitting Nick Swisher and walking Robinson Cano and Martin immediately made him pay. The Yankee catcher pulled a 2-0 off-speed pitch right down the left-field line for a 3-0 lead. It was gone as soon as it left the bat. Three batters later, Pearce would push the lead to 5-0. There was some doubt to this one, as it looked like Pearce got under it a bit. But the ball carried into the first row of the left-field seats and the Orioles' Nate McLouth was unable to bring it back.
One inning later, Rodriguez absolutely hammered the 300th homer of his Yankee career. A-Rod fell behind in the count, but caught a 90-mph fastball out over the plate and drove it to deep centerfield for the 7-0 lead. Chen's night would end there with the Yankees now comfortably in front.
Hughes took advantage of the seven-run lead and pounded the zone. He walked no one in six innings of work, and struck out five. Adam Jones corked his 29th homer of the season -- a three-run shot off Hughes. But that would be his one big mistake of the night.
The Yankees are now back in first place by a game and they'll look to extend that on Saturday with CC Sabathia on the mound. The Orioles will counter with Joe Saunders in the third game of this four-game set.