NEW YORK -- Things are going so well for Aaron Hicks that he hit a ball into the "Judge's Chambers" -- the section in right field named for the New York Yankees' other outfielder named Aaron who hits homers.
The Yankees are also benefitting from a run of solid starting pitching after the best outing of Jordan Montgomery's brief career.
Hicks homered twice and Montgomery pitched a career-high seven innings as New York pulled away for an 8-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night.
Hicks was batting .205 with two homers and 12 RBIs through New York's first 58 games last year after joining the team in a trade from the Minnesota Twins. After connecting off Dylan Bundy and Edwin Jackson in his third career multi-homer game, Hicks is up to .318 with 10 homers and a career-high 34 RBIs while getting touted by general manager Brian Cashman as a possible All-Star.
"It feels really good to be able get off to a hot start and I want to keep it going," Hicks said. "Especially since last season I got myself in a hole and this year I've started out hot, so it feels good."
Yankees manager Joe Girardi added: "He continues to shine and he's been really helpful."
Hicks, who is handling center field duties while Jacoby Ellsbury recovers from a concussion, hit the tiebreaking homer to lead off the sixth. He gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead by sending a 2-1 pitch approximately 406 feet into the section that was created on May 22 in anticipation of homers by Aaron Judge.
"That's cool. I got a kick out of it," Hicks said before laughing when a reporter told him "at least it was a guy named Aaron".
Hicks turned in his second multi-homer game of the season. It was the 10th by a Yankee this season, matching their entire total from last season.
Montgomery (4-4) won his second straight start after laboring through 4 1/3 innings at Baltimore on May 29. He retired 17 of the final 18 hitters, set a career high with eight strikeouts and threw 94 pitches.
"We're giving him smaller bits and pieces, it's kind of what you do with young players," Girardi said. "We want to see him clear hurdles and he continues to clear them and we really like what he's doing."
Montgomery allowed a two-run homer to Jonathan Schoop in the second inning but little else. In the first time through the lineup, the Orioles were 4-for-8 with a walk and the rest of his outing they were 1-for-17.
It also continued a run of strong starting pitching after Masahiro Tanaka allowed three homers Tuesday. Since then, the Yankees have allowed three runs in the last 29 inning,s and since May 31, opponents are 0-for-42 with runners in scoring position.
Besides the big night by Hicks and Montgomery's longest outing, others contributed as the Yankees (35-23) tied a season high by going 12 games over .500 for the second time.
Starlin Castro hit a solo homer and Chase Headley lifted a sacrifice fly to the warning track in right in the second. After Hicks hit his ninth and 10th homers, Matt Holliday added an RBI double and Austin Romine drove in the final two runs with a base hit.
Bundy (6-5) opposed Montgomery for the second time in three starts and allowed three runs and six hits in six innings. He lost for the fourth time in his last five starts despite allowing three earned runs or less for the 12th time.
"It's a tough lineup over there, obviously, so you've just got to make quality pitches from the get-go," Bundy said. "And I didn't really do that in the second inning, or in the sixth, against Hicks."
The Orioles lost for the 12th time in their last 18 games and did not get a hit after Ruben Tejada's second hit of the game. They were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and in the biggest at-bat of the game, Adam Jones struck out with Tejada at third for the final out of the fifth when the game was still tied.
"I'm always going to give some credit to their pitcher," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "The young man's having a good year and throwing the ball well. We're just not making many adjustments to pitching patterns that we know are there."
NOTES: The Yankees announced RHP Masahiro Tanaka will start Monday against the Los Angeles Angels instead of Sunday's series finale. Manager Joe Girardi did not say who will start Sunday. ... Baltimore RHP Darren O'Day was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a strained right shoulder and RHP Stefan Crichton was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk. ... Baltimore C Welington Castillo (groin contusion) went 0-for-3 in a rehab game with Double-A Bowie and will likely be activated Saturday. ... New York 1B Greg Bird (bruised right ankle) went 0-for-5 and played nine innings at first base in his second rehab game with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre.