Mike Mussina was baffling batters with dipping curveballs and a fastball that topped 90 miles per hour.
Back on the mound for the first time in more than three weeks after recovering from elbow trouble, he gave the New York Yankees the type of pitching performance that could push them over the top in their quest for an eighth straight East title.
Mussina threw six impressive innings, Jorge Posada supplied a tying home run in the fifth inning and a three-run, upper-deck drive in the sixth, and the Yankees survived another meltdown by their middle relievers to beat the Baltimore Orioles, 7-6, last night.
''I had to find out, and we had to find out, whether I could go out there and pitch," said Mussina, who had been sidelined since Aug. 29 because of elbow inflammation. ''You can't throw a test out there the last week of the year or in the postseason, when every game is as big as they are. I had to know now whether I could go do it or whether I couldn't."
A night after moving past the Red Sox to take over first place in the East for the first time since July 18, the Yankees won for the 10th time in 11 games -- seven of the wins by one run -- and opened a season-high one-game lead with 10 remaining. Mussina is on track to pitch the season finale Oct. 2 at Fenway Park.
Indians 11, Royals 6 -- Travis Hafner hit his sixth home run in five games and Coco Crisp added a two-run shot to lead visiting Cleveland past Kansas City, moving the streaking Indians within 1 1/2 games of first-place Chicago in the Central Division.
A less-than-sharp Cliff Lee (18-4) won his ninth straight decision and the Indians won for the 15th time in 17 games. Lee allowed six runs and a season-high 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings, including light-hitting Mark Teahen's grand slam that tied it at 5 in the fourth. Lee's winning percentage of .818 leads the league.
Twins 4, White Sox 1 -- Matthew LeCroy hit a go-ahead RBI single in a three-run 11th and visiting Minnesota sent first-place Chicago to another crushing defeat.
Chicago loaded the bases in the ninth and had runners on first and second in the 10th, but couldn't score before the Twins broke through against reliever Bobby Jenks (1-1).
Angels 7, Rangers 4 -- Adam Kennedy singled in the go-ahead run with the bases loaded and Chone Figgins added a two-run single, helping host Los Angeles beat Texas for its sixth straight victory and 40th comeback win.
Ervin Santana (10-8) got the victory, allowing three runs and six hits, striking out three and walking two in six innings. The righthander became the first Angels' rookie to win 10 games since Jason Dickson won 13 in 1997.
Blue Jays 7, Mariners 5 -- Alex Rios broke a tie with a two-run homer in the eighth to help host Toronto beat Seattle.
Corey Koskie walked before Rios hit his 10th homer off Joel Pineiro (7-10).