For Mike Mussina, it was important to finish what he started.
Mussina saved a struggling New York bullpen with a four-hitter yesterday, pitching the host Yankees to a 5-0 victory over the Oakland Athletics.
The win ended a four-game losing streak that had dropped the seven-time defending AL East champions into a last-place tie with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, nine games behind first-place Baltimore.
Mussina (3-2) dominated the Athletics with his 22d career shutout and first since Aug. 17, 2003 -- which was also the last complete-game victory by a Yankees pitcher. He struck out three, walked two, and allowed only two runners to reach second base in his 131-pitch outing.
"Finishing was obviously important to him," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "He had command of the strike zone. He threw all his pitches and he was able to throw strikes."
With 11 wins after 30 games, the Yankees had their poorest record at that point since 1966, when they also were 11-19. The last time the team was eight games under .500 was June 1995, the year before Torre became manager and led the Yankees to nine straight playoff appearances, including six AL pennants and four World Series championships.
New York managed just five hits against Joe Blanton and two relievers, but gave Mussina an early lead.
The Yankees picked up a quick run against Blanton (0-3) in the first inning when Derek Jeter drew a leadoff walk and scored on a double into the left-field corner by Gary Sheffield.
Orioles 5, Royals 3 -- Brian Roberts homered on the first pitch in the bottom of the first inning to back an impressive pitching performance by Bruce Chen, and Baltimore beat Kansas City. Miguel Tejada hit a two-run double for the first-place Orioles, who have won 11 of 13 to move 11 games over .500 (20-9) for the first time since 1997.
Chen (4-1) allowed two unearned runs in seven innings.
White Sox 10, Blue Jays 7 -- Paul Konerko homered twice and drove in five runs a day after ending an 0-for-26 slump, and the visiting White Sox won their seventh straight. Staked to a 6-1 lead in the second, Jon Garland became the American League's first six-game winner. Garland (6-0) tossed shutouts in his previous two starts, but Shea Hillenbrand ended his 23-inning scoreless streak with a RBI grounder in the first.
Twins 8, Devil Rays 1 -- Lew Ford's two-run double capped a four-run fifth inning, and Justin Morneau hit a three-run homer, leading visiting Minnesota past Tampa Bay. Ford's hit came with two outs and the bases loaded. The Twins had been hitless in 14 at-bats this season in that situation.
Rangers 6, Indians 1 -- Alfonso Soriano had his second straight two-homer game as host Texas beat Cleveland. Ryan Drese (3-3) limited the Indians to six hits in throwing the Rangers' first complete game of the season.
Tigers 2, Angels 1 -- Troy Percival saved his first game against his former team for Jeremy Bonderman, who pitched four-hit ball over eight innings to lead visiting Detroit.