NEW YORK — Miguel Gonzalez and the Orioles are doing all they can to crash the Yankees' American League East party.
The rookie struck out a career-high nine over seven shutout innings and Mark Reynolds homered twice as Baltimore tightened the division race Friday with a 6-1 victory over New York.
J.J. Hardy added a solo shot for the Orioles, who moved within two games of the first-place Yankees by winning the opener of their three-game series. That's the closest Baltimore has been since a 11/2-game deficit June 22, less than a month before the Yankees opened a season-high 10-game cushion on July 18.
"Keep doubting, we don't care," Reynolds said. "We're coming in, doing our jobs and doing the little things to win baseball games."
Buck Showalter's young team has won 18 of its past 25 to head into September as a serious playoff contender for the first time in 15 years.
The latest victory increased Baltimore's lead over Tampa Bay to 21/2 games for the second AL wild-card spot. However, the Orioles' primary goal is to win the division.
"You can tell, especially in this clubhouse, the quiet confidence that everyone has, expecting to win every night," Reynolds said. "So we're just going to keep riding this wave as long as it lasts."
Reynolds made two impressive plays at first base, and Chris Davis had a sacrifice fly in Baltimore's three-run second against Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda, a 37-year-old right-hander, gave up eight hits in 81/3 innings, going at least eight for the fourth straight outing, but again he was hurt by a lack of run support.
Pitching on 10 days' rest, Gonzalez allowed only four harmless singles to win for the fourth time in five decisions. He walked one and threw 66 of 97 pitches for strikes in his second win at Yankee Stadium. He beat New York 5-4 on July 30, setting his previous career best with eight strikeouts.
"I think the adrenaline gets me going, helps me out," Gonzalez said. "I just like pitching against a good offensive team, I guess."