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Greg Bird's home run lifts Yankees past Orioles

Greg Bird of the New York Yankees hits

Greg Bird of the New York Yankees hits a three-run home run against the Baltimore Orioles in the seventh inning at Yankee Stadium on September 7, 2015. Credit: Getty Images / Andy Marlin

A monster four-game series against the AL East-leading Blue Jays looms later this week. But, Joe Girardi said late Monday morning, first things first.

"We know we have seven games with them, but we know you can't overlook these three games with the Baltimore Orioles before you get to those," Girardi said. "Our perception is just go out and win and things will take care of themselves."

His club did that on Labor Day afternoon, hitting three home runs in rallying from an early three-run deficit to beat the fast-fading Orioles, 8-6, in front of 31,039 at the Stadium.

The Yankees (77-59), who rallied from three runs down against Chris Archer to beat the Rays Sunday afternoon, won for the eighth time in their last 10 games, moved 18 games over .500 for the first time this season and pulled within a half-game of the Blue Jays, who lost in Boston.

"They're a really good team and they're playing really good baseball," said John Ryan Murphy, whose opposite-field homer gave the Yankees a 5-4 lead in the fifth. "I think it's normal to look up there during the games and want them to be losing."

Said Girardi: "It's nice to see them lose games and teams play them tough. But the bottom line is we have to take care of our own business."

Monday's business featured rookie lefthanded-hitting first baseman Greg Bird breaking a 5-5 tie with a three-run homer in the seventh off lefty reliever Brian Matusz, brought in to face him.

"Just watched some quick video," said Bird, who descended the dugout stairs to watch a couple of Matusz pitches in an adjoining video room while the reliever came in from the bullpen.

The 22-year-old was looking fastball but got a slider on an 0-and-2 pitch. "It's always being ready for a fastball," said Bird, who continues to ably fill in for the injured Mark Teixeira. "It's easier to go fastball to off-speed than it is to go off-speed to fastball. I just try to keep it simple."

The Yankees trailed 4-1 after Michael Pineda gave up four runs in the second -- three on Jonathan Schoop's home run on an 0-and-2 pitch -- but took a 5-4 lead in the fifth against lefthander Wei-Yin Chen on Alex Rodriguez's 29th home run and Murphy's two-out, two-run shot to rightfield.

"I got into a good count," said Murphy, who, like Rodriguez, homered on a 3-and-1 fastball. "I missed a good pitch the first pitch but ended up getting to a 3-and-1 count and I don't think he wants to lose me there with two outs and I got a good pitch to hit."

Justin Wilson (5-0) replaced Pineda to start the seventh and allowed a one-out homer by Manny Machado that tied it at 5-5. It was only the second homer allowed by Wilson in 502/3 innings this season.

Dellin Betances had an interesting eighth, walking the first two batters, striking out the next two, walking another to load the bases, then striking out Caleb Joseph to end the inning.

Andrew Miller allowed a two-out RBI single by Chris Davis in the ninth, bringing Jimmy Paredes to the plate as the tying run, but Miller struck him out on three pitches to record his 32nd save in 33 chances.

The Yankees survived a ragged outing by Pineda, who, in Girardi's words, "didn't really have great stuff." But after allowing four runs and five hits in the second, he gave up only one more hit in his final four innings and stood to get the win until Machado homered off Wilson. "I tried to keep the game close and give an opportunity for my team to win it," Pineda said. "And it happened today."

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