Jaret Wright won his first start in nearly four months and Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield homered, helping the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, 5-2, last night in St. Petersburg, Fla., for their fifth straight victory.
The victory, coupled with the Red Sox' loss to the Tigers, moved the Yankees within 3 1/2 games of first-place Boston in the AL East.
Rodriguez homered for the third straight game, hitting a two-run, fourth-inning shot off Casey Fossum (6-10) to boost his league-leading total to 36. Sheffield hit No. 25, a solo blast off reliever Travis Harper, for a 5-2 lead in the seventh.
But Wright (3-2) was the story of the night for the Yankees, whose starting rotation has been in shambles because of injuries. The righthander, pitching for the first time since April 23, allowed two runs and four hits in 6 1/3 innings -- his longest outing of the season. He struck out two and walked one, but also hit three batters.
Jonny Gomes hit a solo homer off Wright in the fourth. The Devil Rays also scored on Toby Hall's RBI single in the fifth.
Tanyon Sturtze replaced Wright with two runners on and one out in the seventh, and Tom Gordon pitched a perfect eighth for the Yankees. Mariano Rivera got the last three outs for his 32d save.
Orioles 6, Athletics 2 -- Sammy Sosa's 25-foot RBI single highlighted a wild rally as Baltimore ended Barry Zito's eight-game winning streak with a victory in Oakland, Calif.
The Orioles came back with five runs in the seventh inning thanks to several misplays by the A's, including two hit batsmen, two bases-loaded walks, and a throwing error by shortstop Bobby Crosby.
Rodrigo Lopez (12-6) pitched 6 2/3 strong innings to win his third straight decision despite trailing for most of the night. Luis Matos added an RBI double in the ninth.
Twins 4, White Sox 2 -- Lew Ford and Brent Abernathy each hit a two-run single in the fourth inning to lead Minnesota over host Chicago.
Twins starter Kyle Lohse (8-11) hung around long enough to earn his first victory since July 2, and Nick Punto had three hits and three stolen bases for Minnesota, which has won four of five.
Chicago has lost three straight overall and 11 of 17 at home.
Angels 5, Blue Jays 4 -- Darin Erstad singled home the winning run in the 11th inning, Adam Kennedy had four hits and Los Angeles edged visiting Toronto.
Chone Figgins drove in two runs for the AL West-leading Angels, who moved two games ahead of Oakland.
Only 2 1/2 weeks after the Blue Jays completed a three-game sweep of the Angels with an 18-inning victory -- the longest game in Toronto history -- the teams played their third straight extra-inning contest. This time, the winning and losing pitchers were reversed from the marathon game in Canada.
Mariners 11, Royals 3 -- In Seattle, Kansas City lost its club-record 16th consecutive game, managing only three hits and one run in eight innings against 19-year-old rookie Felix Hernandez.
The Royals have the longest losing streak in the major leagues since the Chicago Cubs lost 16 straight in 1996-97. The Cubs lost the final two games of the 1996 season and the first 14 in 1997.
The 1988 Orioles are the only AL team to have a longer skid in the last 30 years, losing a league-record 21 in a row at the start of the season.
Astros 12, Cubs 4 -- Morgan Ensberg hit a long home run and finished 4 for 4 with three RBIs, and Chris Burke, Adam Everett, and Humberto Quintero also homered in host Houston's thumping of Chicago.
Ensberg homered in the seventh inning, a solo shot that landed on the train track well above the left-field stands. He helped the Astros follow consecutive shutouts with their second-highest scoring game of the season.
Burke hit a three-run homer in the third inning, and Everett had a solo homer and Quintero hit a two-run shot in a six-run fifth. Rookie Willy Taveras had his fourth four-hit game, going 4 for 6 with two runs.
Nationals 6, Phillies 3 -- Preston Wilson homered twice, Livan Hernandez pitched eight strong innings, and Washington won its fourth straight on the road, beating Philadelphia.
Nick Johnson and Brian Schneider also homered for the Nationals.
After allowing a single to Bobby Abreu in the third, Hernandez (14-5) retired eight straight batters before another single by Abreu in the seventh.
Giants 7, Reds 3 -- Randy Winn hit for the cycle in his first four at-bats, sending visiting San Francisco over Cincinnati.
Todd Linden also homered and drove in two runs for the Giants, who overcame solo shots by Ken Griffey, Adam Dunn, and Austin Kearns.
Winn led off the first inning with a single and the third with his ninth homer this season -- his third in 13 games since being acquired from Seattle July 30. The speedy center fielder doubled with one out in the fourth and opened the fifth with a triple to right-center.
Rockies 11, Brewers 2 -- In Denver, Aaron Cook pitched six solid innings for his first win in more than a year, Garrett Atkins homered and drove in four runs, and Colorado ended a four-game losing streak by drubbing slumping Milwaukee.
Cook (1-1) returned to the Rockies' rotation July 30 after missing nearly a year with blood clots in his lungs that nearly killed him.