Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy returned to the starting lineup for the opening game of Friday's split doubleheader, after nagging lower-back spasms had forced him to miss the previous five games.

Hardy hadn't played since Friday's game in Tampa Bay, when pain in his lower back flared up and worsened throughout the game. He missed the final two games against the Rays and also sat out this week's three-game sweep in Boston when he was sent back to Baltimore to see team orthopedist Dr. Mike Jacobs.


He underwent an MRI, the results of which were unchanged from what he received in April, and also received a cortisone injection. Hardy said he received additional treatment on Thursday's day off, including a Toradol injection, and swung at 80 percent.

Before Friday's 2-1 win over the New York Yankees, Hardy said he hoped to swing at 100 percent in pregame warm-ups. He started at shortstop, going 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored .

He wasn't in the starting lineup for Friday's second game against the Yankees, a move Hardy said he expected.

"I think we've been smart this whole time about trying not to rush back and keeping the big picture in mind," Hardy said before the first game Friday. "If I play the first and if I feel great, maybe, but probably not. It wouldn't be smart."

Hardy's focus has been on preventing an extended absence similar to the one he had in April, when he missed six games with for lower-back problems. Although he has missed seven games over the past two weeks, he said his latest back problems has not reached the severity of those in April, when he said his back locked up.

De Aza extends hitting streak

Left fielder Alejandro De Aza had two hits and reached base three times in Friday's first game, giving him a seven-game hitting streak to begin his Orioles career. He extended the streak to eight with a fourth-inning triple Friday night.

De Aza's streak is the longest by a player starting his Orioles career since Eric Byrnes hit safely in 11 consecutive games from July 30 to Aug. 10, 2005. David Newhan holds the club record with a 15-game streak from June 18 to July 3, 2004.

Around the horn

Friday's 2-1 win was the 5,000th in Orioles history and the 1,250th in Orioles manager Buck Showalter's career. … Outfielder Quintin Berry's ninth-inning stolen base in Friday's first game was his 25th in 25 attempts in his career, tying former Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury for the third-most consecutive stolen bases to start a career since 1961. … After striking out the side in Friday's first game, left-hander Andrew Miller has allowed just one run over his past 12 games, posting an 0.84 ERA with 18 strikeouts over 10 2/3 innings. … The Orioles are now 22-27 in day games this season.

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