SportsYankees Yankees stay hot as Ivan Nova is backed by Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez home runs Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees celebrates his fifth-inning home run against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, July 22, 2015 Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac By LAURA ALBANESE email@example.com @AlbaneseLaura July 22, 2015 11:26 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet gShare Email Teams often talk about things clicking, but when it comes to the Yankees these days, they're ticking -- moving through the season with clock-like consistency, little drama, and a firmer and firmer hold on the AL East. Wednesday's 4-3 win against the Orioles was no different. They came into the contest 41/2 games ahead in the division and their victory ensured a fifth straight series win. So even in moments like the second inning, when Ivan Nova allowed a two-run home run, everything seemed thoroughly under control. Mark Teixeira blasted a two-run homer in the first and Alex Rodriguez hit a fifth-inning bomb over the visitors' bullpen as the Yankees continued to hit just enough and pitch well enough to make even a victory over a divisional opponent seem like a ho-hum affair. "We come to the park every day expecting to win," Teixeira said, unintentionally echoing his manager only a few moments earlier. "You feel that if you're struggling to score runs early, you're going to get a couple guys on and someone is going to pop one," Joe Girardi said. "That's kind of how it feels." Because that's kind of what's been happening. Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a double to right and Brett Gardner drove him home with a chopper up the middle for the opening run. One batter after that, Kevin Gausman (1-2, 5.18 ERA) allowed Teixeira's 24th home run of the season, a two-run shot, for the 3-0 lead. Gausman settled down after the first, and Nova gave back most of his breathing room over two pitches in the third -- J.J. Hardy's single to left, and on the next pitch, Ryan Flaherty's two-run blast to right-center, courtesy of a 93 mph two-seamer. The Yankees did come close to losing the lead in the fifth, when Nova walked the first two batters to face him, Hardy and Flaherty, who were sacrificed over by Caleb Joseph. But even then, things seemed manageable: Manny Machado hit a blazer to third, and the ball was corralled by a kneeling Chase Headley on the backhand to freeze the runners and get the second out at first. Travis Snider grounded out to end the inning. With their defense ticking along, and with Nova showing what A-Rod calls Houdini-like properties, it was time for another offensive outburst. With one out in the bottom of the frame, Rodriguez, who took a borderline strike one, left no question on the next pitch. His home run traveled over 450 feet to left-center for the 4-2 lead. It was his 20th homer of the year. "I wish you got more points for distance," Rodriguez said. "It's just one point and tonight it was valuable." Added Teixeira: "I was on the record in spring training saying that I expected a lot out of him, and he's showing that I'm the smartest guy in baseball." After that, it was time for the most consistent part of the Yankees: the bullpen. Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances retired every batter to face them in the seventh and eighth. Even when Andrew Miller allowed a two-out solo home run to Chris Davis in the ninth, the situation still seemed firmly in hand. He struck out Jonathan Schoop swinging for his 22nd save in as many chances. "Our bullpen has been a rock all year," Rodriguez said. "One of our unsung heroes all year has been Chasen . . . The bats are fine and we've had pretty good pitching and those are the types of games that we have to win in October." "Our bullpen has been a rock all year," Rodriguez said. "One of our unsung heroes all year has been Chasen . . . The bats are fine and we've had pretty good pitching and those are the types of games that we have to win in October." By LAURA ALBANESE firstname.lastname@example.org @AlbaneseLaura Laura Albanese is a general assignment sports reporter; she began at Newsday in 2007 as an intern. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments Comments section is temporarily on hold. Here’s why.