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TEX@NYY: Kuroda fans six in solid start vs. Rangers

One week after being swept in Baltimore, the Yankees' fortunes have flipped 180 degrees. On Sunday they'll have a chance for their second consecutive series sweep -- following their four wins over the Twins -- which would also knot the season series with the American League East-rival Orioles at six games apiece and give them their seventh straight victory.

Hiroki Kuroda will pitch for the Yankees after all this weekend. He had been scratched from his Friday start with a sore left hip flexor, and it appeared as though he would not face Baltimore.

But the Yankees placed right-hander David Phelps on the 15-day disabled list on Saturday with a strained right forearm, altering their rotation. Phil Hughes had been scheduled to start on Sunday, but Kuroda will take his place, and Hughes will be pushed back to Monday's series opener against the Royals.

An MRI performed on Friday did not reveal any ligament damage in Phelps' arm. Phelps last pitched on Thursday, allowing four earned runs in 6 1/3 innings in the win that completed the sweep of the Twins. He is 6-5 on the season, with a 5.01 ERA over 12 starts.

Whereas the Yankees have surged back into the AL East race, the Orioles are headed in the opposite direction. They dropped two of three to the White Sox in Chicago and now hope to avoid losing five games on the six-game road trip.

Saturday's close game resembled Friday's tight affair, and once again the Orioles were on the losing end.

Closer Jim Johnson has been stellar for most of the season, but he blew Friday's save opportunity and had a rough patch in May in which he blew four of five chances. Despite the very visible nature of his role, he is tied for the Major League lead in saves and leads in games finished.

"Jimmy would like to get out there every day," manager Buck Showalter said. "Sometimes it takes a manager to slow guys down, even though they might think they're bulletproof."

Johnson and the rest of the Orioles' bullpen could prove critical on Sunday, and will almost certainly play an important role in the team's fortunes in the second half of the season.

For the Orioles to right their ship on Sunday, they need right-hander Jason Hammel to turn around his recent fortunes. He's gone six consecutive starts without a victory, and was winless in June.

Through May, a span of 11 starts, he was 7-2. In 17 starts this season, he's only gone at least seven innings three times.

This will be his 11th road start of the season. Away from Camden Yards, he is 6-2 with a 4.45 ERA. And in his 10 career starts against the Yankees, he's 3-3 with a 4.89 ERA.

Yankees: Nunez back in the lineup
The Yankees activated shortstop Eduardo Nunez from the disabled list in time for Saturday's game.

Nunez went 2-for-3 in his first game back in the lineup since recovering from a strained left oblique. He also had two RBIs and scored a run while batting from the eighth spot.

The Yankees made two corresponding roster moves, placing Phelps on the DL and transferring Mark Teixeira to the 60-day DL.

Orioles: Showalter hopes to keep bullpen fresh
Showalter does a lot of in-season shuffling with his pitching staff, in part to ensure there are always fresh arms available in the bullpen.

"At this time of the year -- and for the rest of the year -- everybody's in such overdrive," he said. "When the season's over, there are about three or four days that go on where you just stare at the ceiling. … Your body basically tells you that you're not supposed to do this for eight months, seven days a week."

So he'll continue to try to find rest for his relievers as the season wears on. He also said that it's nice to have a bullpen that cares more about team success than individual accolades, which allows him to mix and match his late-inning options.

"There's not a lot of ego involved. It's what's best for the Orioles," he said.

Worth noting
• Chris Davis, who hit his Major League-leading 33rd home run on Saturday, is 5-for-15 with two homers in his career against Kuroda.

• Robinson Cano is 11-for-29 lifetime against Hammel, and Ichiro Suzuki is 8-for-17.

• Orioles third baseman Manny Machado turned 21 on Saturday. Comments