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BAL@NYY: Rivera works solid ninth for save No. 598

Yankees closer Mariano Rivera has 598 career saves, two away from the 600 mark that only one man, Trevor Hoffman, has reached in Major League history.

One more and Rivera will reach No. 599, and two more after that and he'll tie Hoffman's all-time record of 601.

The next step could take place Wednesday, which would make it Rivera's second save on the same day. After beating Baltimore in a much-delayed game that ended after 2 a.m. ET Wednesday morning, the Yankees and Orioles will go at it again for an afternoon game with New York seeking a sweep.

Rivera will be in uniform, looking to continue his dominance for the Yankees, who maintained their 2 1/2-game lead over the Red Sox in the American League East with Tuesday/early Wednesday's win.

Rivera has saved 11 of the Yankees' last 19 wins and has reached the 35-save plateau for the 11th time in his career, one shy of Hoffman's record. He is one save shy of reaching 40 for the eighth time in his career and has converted all 21 save opportunities at home in 2011.

"The best ever. I keep saying the same thing over and over again, and it sounds repetitious every time I talk about Mo, but it's true," longtime Yankees teammate Jorge Posada said. "There's nobody [who's] ever going to get close to what he's been able to achieve, because there's nobody better. It's just that simple."

While the Yankees wait for the Sandman to enter again and get himself one step closer to history, the Orioles see a bright future for their rookie left-hander, Zach Britton, who has weathered some storms in 2011 and emerged better and wiser for his experiences.

Britton, who goes up against Yankees righty A.J. Burnett on Wednesday, earned his third consecutive victory in his last start, which took place on the road against the Rays. Britton held Tampa Bay to two hits over his final five innings, striking out six batters and lowering his ERA to 1.50 in three starts since coming off the disabled list.

Britton looked like an AL Rookie of the Year Award contender in the first two months of the season but went 1-7 with an 8.00 ERA over a 10-game stretch before hitting the DL.

"Zach has had his nose bloodied a little bit, and he's come back," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "He's fine. That bodes well for him in the future."

Orioles: Vlad inching toward history

Designated hitter Vladimir Guerrero needs 27 more hits to become the all-time hits leader for Dominican-born players. Guerrero, who has 2,560 hits in 16 years, trails only Julio Franco (2,586 hits in 23 seasons) and Manny Ramirez (2,574 hits in 19 seasons).

• Closer Kevin Gregg notched his 20th save Friday night and became the 16th Orioles pitcher ever to record 20 or more saves in a season and the first since George Sherrill had 20 in 2009 before being traded to the Dodgers. Gregg Olson has the most seasons of 20 or more saves for the Orioles, with five from 1989-93.

• Catcher Matt Wieters has hit in 13 of his last 15 games, going 21-for-56 (.375) with five doubles, six homers, seven walks, 11 runs scored and 17 RBIs. He has at least one RBI in 11 of those 15 games.

Yankees: Counting on A.J.

The Yankees' immediate future, as usual, is October and the postseason, and it's no secret that they'd like Burnett to be at his best when those games begin. He might have shown a glimpse of it in his last outing, when he allowed two runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision in a game the Yankees would eventually win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park. The two earned runs allowed marked his fewest since also allowing two earned runs in his start on June 29 vs. Milwaukee, and it snapped a career-high streak of 10 consecutive starts in which he allowed at least three earned runs.

• The Yankees have three players with at least 100 RBIs this season: center fielder Curtis Granderson (109), second baseman Robinson Cano (105) and first baseman Mark Teixeira (101). It's the first time the Yankees have had a trio of players each reach the century mark in RBIs within the team's first 137 games since 2005, when Alex Rodriguez, Gary Sheffield and Hideki Matsui each accomplished the feat.

• Cano went hitless Tuesday, snapping a nine-game hitting streak. He's still hit in 26 of his last 28 games since Aug. 7, batting .336 (39-for-116) with 20 runs, 12 doubles, six homers and 30 RBIs over the stretch.

Worth noting

• As a first baseman (27 games played), Orioles slugger Mark Reynolds is batting .289 (26-for-90) with eight homers and 14 RBIs. As a third baseman (114 games played), Reynolds is batting .210 (80-for-381) with 24 homers and 60 RBIs.

• Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter leads all active Major Leaguers vs. Baltimore in games (251), runs (193) and doubles (62), and ranks fourth in RBIs (122).

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