Manny Machado, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis

Baltimore Orioles’ Manny Machado (13), celebrates his two-run homer with Adam Jones left, with Nick Markakis, at right, during the 11th inning of an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. The Orioles won 8-2, in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

The Baltimore Orioles maintained first place in the American League East after winning three games and suffering two losses from July 7 to 12. The Orioles took two out of three games from the Washington Nationals in the “Battle of the Beltway” series before splitting two home games against the New York Yankees. The Orioles have a 51-42 record and lead the division by three games.

July 7-10: O’s Beat Nationals in Battle of Beltway

Baltimore opened the week with an 8-2 victory over the Washington Nationals in Game One of their scheduled four-game series on July 7 in Washington, D.C. The first two games of the Battle of the Beltway series were hosted by the Nationals, with the final two games scheduled for the Orioles home field.

In Game One, the Orioles were hot at the plate, recording 15 hits, while the Nationals struggled offensively, delivering just seven hits. Orioles’ third baseman Manny Machado led the way with five hits, two RBI and two runs, including a home run. Orioles’ first baseman Chris Davis hit his 14th home run of the year and left fielder Nelson Cruz went the yard as well, smashing his league-leading 28th home run of the season.

Chris Tillman got the start for the Orioles and gave up two earned runs and five hits with six strikeouts in seven innings. Reliever T.J. McFarland got the win, however, closing out the final two innings for the Orioles while giving up just one hit.

Game Two of the series was postponed due to severe weather in the D.C. area on July 8. When the series moved to Baltimore, the Nationals came away with a 6-2 win in Game Three on July 9. Machado had another strong performance for the Orioles, picking up three hits, including his ninth home run of the season. But starting pitcher Bud Norris struggled, allowing six hits and five earned runs in just four innings of work. Nationals’ catcher Wilson Ramos, shortstop Ian Desmond and right fielder Jayson Werth each went the yard with home runs. Nationals’ starting pitcher Doug Fister got the win after lasting seven innings and giving up seven hits and two earned runs.

Adam Jones, Mark Teixeira

Baltimore Orioles’ Adam Jones (10) safely dives back to first on a pick-off attempt against New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, right, during the fourth inning of a baseball game, Friday, July 11, 2014, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Wei-Yin Chen got the start for the Orioles in Game Four on July 10 and led them to a 4-3 victory. Chen only lasted into the sixth inning after giving up eight hits and three earned runs, but Baltimore’s bullpen shut out the Nationals the rest of the way as relief pitchers Tommy Hunter, Darren O’Day and Zack Britton delivered solid performances. Britton picked up his 15th save of the season. The Orioles had only six hits but made each one count. Left fielder Steve Pearce led the Orioles with two hits, two runs and an RBI, and hit his 11th home run of the season.

July 11-12: Orioles Split First Two Against Yankees

Baltimore scratched out a 3-2 win in extra innings of Game Oneof a three-game set against the Yankees on July 11. Miguel Gonzalez got the start for the O’s and lasted eight innings with five strikeouts. However, he surrendered two home runs early in the game that kept the scored tied to the ninth inning. Machado led off the 10th inning with a double and scored on an ensuing single to give Baltimore the win; McFarland earned the win.

But New York bounced back to beat Baltimore, 3-0, in Game Two on July 12. Tillman went 6-2/3 innings, giving up seven hits and three earned runs.  Despite his performance, the Orioles failed to generate much offense, recording just five hits. Rookie Shane Greene earned the win for the Yankees, striking out nine in 7-1/3 innings.

Next-up: After the rubber match of their series with New York on July 13, Baltimore will break for the All-Star Game on July 15. The Orioles will then travel to Oakland to face the Athletics in a three-game series from July 18 to July 20.

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor