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Bird’s slam, Gray’s pitching carry Yankees past Orioles 9-0

Greg Bird hit his first career grand slam to back a dominating pitching performance by Sonny Gray, and the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 Wednesday night for a split of the four-game series.

BALTIMORE (AP) — After spending three days at Camden Yards, Greg Bird and Sonny Gray left town feeling a whole lot better than when they arrived.

Bird hit his first career grand slam to back a dominating pitching performance by Gray, and the New York Yankees beat the Baltimore Orioles 9-0 Wednesday night for a split of the four-game series.

Facing Dylan Bundy (6-9) in the third inning, Bird launched a drive off the right-field foul pole to put New York up 5-0. It was the second night in a row he homered and had four RBIs.

The big first baseman came to Baltimore with nine RBIs, and doubled that total during this series.

“Him playing well is a big deal for us,” manager Aaron Boone said. “Hopefully we’re starting to see him get settled in and having some impact at bats.”

Gray (6-7) allowed three hits, walked one and struck out eight over six innings. The right-hander had lost three straight starts, the last two in which he gave up a collective 11 runs over 4 1/3 innings.

Facing the last-place Orioles couldn’t have come at a better time for Gray. He’s 3-0 with a 2.00 ERA against Baltimore and 3-7 with a 6.32 ERA against everyone else.

“When you’re going through some things, I think it’s important to get back to your strengths,” Gray said. “My two-seam and my curveball have always been something I’ve been able to rely on throughout my career, going back to college. I think to simplify things and go back to your strengths, that’s all we tried to do today.”

It worked quite well.

“Sonny Gray is too good a pitcher to stay where he was all year, and I think he made some adjustments,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “He looked physically strong tonight.”

The victory enabled the Yankees to improve to 5-5 against the Orioles this season. In this series, Baltimore won 5-4 and 6-5, and New York’s wins were by a total of 17 runs.

Rookie Tyler Wade and Austin Romine also homered for the Yankees, and Giancarlo Stanton had four hits.

In the pivotal third inning, Stanton singled in a run before Bird ended a nine-pitch at-bat by pulling a curveball down the line.

“I feel like gradually it’s coming,” Bird said. “I can feel it on a swing here and there, and it’s just been better and more consistent.”

Wade went deep in the sixth, and Romine connected in the seventh. Wade’s long ball, his first in the big leagues, came on his 100th at-bat.

New York has 154 home runs this season, a major league record before the All-Star break. The Yankees have played 91 games; the 1999 Seattle Mariners hit 151 in 87 games.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: Boone said LHP Aroldis Chapman (left knee) is “good to go.” Chapman has not pitched since leaving in the ninth inning Saturday at Toronto. … C Gary Sanchez, on the disabled list since June 25 with a right groin strain, ran and did catching work Wednesday. “I would say he’s getting closer,” Boone said.

Orioles: RHP Andrew Cashner was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a neck strain. He’s not expected to miss more than one start. … RHP Chris Tillman (back) is slated to conclude his rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Norfolk, although manager Buck Showalter floated the idea of starting him in place of Cashner vs. Texas on Sunday.

MOVING PIECES

Manny Machado insists he’s a shortstop. But if he gets traded by the Orioles to the Yankees before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline — one of the many rumors out there — New York could ask him to play 3B next to Didi Gregorius. So where does that leave Yankees 3B Miguel Andujar? “Those are things I have no control over,” Andujar said through an interpreter. “I don’t pay attention to that stuff.” Neither does Boone, who said, “When you’re in a pennant chase, there’s going to be stories that are real, fake, everything.”

UP NEXT

Yankees: RHP Luis Severino (14-2, 2.12 ERA) seeks to add to his major league-leading win total Thursday night in the opener of a four-game series in Cleveland.

Orioles: RHP Kevin Gausman (4-6, 4.11) starts against Philadelphia on Thursday night at Camden Yards in the makeup game of a May 15 rainout.

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