NEW YORK — Coming off the worst start of his major league career, Baltimore Orioles rookie right-hander Miguel Gonzalez’s next challenge was pitching against the division-leading New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
And the 28-year-old Gonzalez rebounded from his rocky outing last Wednesday by keeping the loaded Yankees lineup at bay as the Orioles continued their success in the Bronx this season.
Gonzalez, who has transformed from a minor league free agent to a key piece of the Orioles’ starting rotation, struck out a career-high eight batters and walked none Monday night, leading the Orioles to a 5-4 win. He gave up four runs and six hits in 62 / 3 innings.
The Orioles have won three of four games at Yankee Stadium this season — they took two of three here from April 30 to May 2.
Gonzalez held the Yankees’ top five hitters to just one hit in 15 at-bats. He had allowed just two runs and four hits when he took the mound in the seventh inning — using his change-up with precision — before allowing back-to-back solo homers to left-handed hitters Eric Chavez and Ichiro Suzuki and leaving the game.
“Good tempo, strike thrower,” Manager Buck Showalter said of Gonzalez. “You look at his walk totals and you watch him pitch, you don’t think of him not having command, but when he’s carrying his secondary stuff like that, he’s got a chance to give us the outing that he did tonight.”
His outing came after he gave up a career-high seven runs on seven hits and lasted just 22 / 3 innings in a 10-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays in his last start.
Gonzalez won despite allowing three homers Monday — Raul Ibanez hit a solo shot in the fifth. In five major league starts, he has allowed nine homers.
The Orioles (54-49), who scored more than four runs in just three of their first 13 games following the all-star break, have now scored more than four runs in four of their last five.
The top two hitters in the Orioles’ lineup, Nick Markakis and J.J. Hardy, were a combined 5 for 9 with three RBI and both drove in runs in the seventh inning, giving the Orioles a 5-2 lead.
No. 9 hitter Omar Quintanilla scored a run and drove in another while extending his personal hitting streak to six games. Orioles third baseman Wilson Betemit’s solo homer in the third opened the scoring.
With Baltimore leading 3-2 after sacrifice flies by Quintanilla and Markakis in the fifth, Markakis hit a two-out double two innings later off left-handed reliever Boone Logan, a ball that hit off the bottom of the right-center field wall and drove in Quintanilla. Hardy then drove in Markakis with a run-scoring single to make it 5-2.
Trailing 5-4 after the homers by Chavez and Suzuki, the Yankees put the game-winning run on second base with two outs in the ninth against struggling closer Jim Johnson — Nick Swisher was on third after a leadoff double, and Suzuki was on second — but Johnson converted his 31st save by striking out Russell Martin to end the game.