BALTIMORE -- The Baltimore Orioles waited through a 2-hour, 22-minute rain delay for their 3-1 win over the New York Yankees to finally become official early Monday morning. And for the first time in 17 seasons, the club is going into the All-Star break in an unfamiliar position -- atop the American League East division.
Following their rain-shortened victory over the Yankees in front of a nationally televised audience on ESPN and an announced 34,483 at Camden Yards, the Orioles took a three-game lead on the second-place Toronto Blue Jays and sent the Yankees five games back.
When play resumes to start the second half Friday on the West Coast as the Orioles open a three-city, 10-game road trip in Oakland, the rest of the division will be giving chase. But Orioles manager Buck Showalter said his team still has much to prove.
"We're well over the first-half halfway point, but I don't know," Showalter said. "You look at what (Tampa Bay) has done over their last few years, depends on how far you want to take it back, and Boston and New York and Toronto now. It's almost like we may be in first place right now, but we still feel like we are hunting something as opposed to somebody (hunting) us."
The last time the Orioles went into the All-Star break leading the AL East was 1997, when they won their last division title.
With the win Sunday night, the Orioles (52-42) head into the break 10 games over .500 and winners of 10 of their last 13 games. They've taken six of nine meetings with the Yankees (47-47) this season.
The schedule will be a challenge. The Orioles start the second half with 29 straight games against teams with a record of .500 or better.
The Orioles are in first place even though first baseman Chris Davis has been mired in a first-half slump, batting just .199 heading into the All-Star break.
And Davis snapped the Orioles' 12-inning scoreless streak with a two-run homer in a three-run fourth inning that proved to be the difference.
Right-hander Kevin Gausman, whose recent shuttling between the major and minor leagues has been highly unpopular with fans, allowed a homer to the first batter he faced, Yankees center fielder Brett Gardner. But he recoverd to earn the complete-game win.
Gausman held the Yankees to one run and four hits in five innings. Following Brian McCann's leadoff single in the second inning, Gausman retired 12 of the next 13 batters he faced, including the last seven in a row.
After Nelson Cruz drew a leadoff walk in the fourth, Davis hit a 1-1 fastball from Yankees right-hander Chase Whitley the opposite way for his 15th homer of the season and just his second homer in the past three weeks.
For Davis, who hit 17 of his major league-leading 53 homers the opposite way last year, it was his fourth homer to the opposite field this season.
Jonathan Schoop put the Orioles up, 3-1, with a two-out single that scored J.J. Hardy, who hit a double to left field after Davis' homer.
Schoop's hit chased Whitley, who was making the start in place of injured right-hander Masahiro Tanaka, from the game. He allowed three runs and five hits over 3 2/3 innings with four strikeouts and two walks.
Despite being optioned four times this season, mainly in order to give the Orioles necessary bullpen relief, Gausman (4-2) continued to make strides Sunday. He has allowed one or fewer runs in four of his last five starts, going 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA over that span.
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