This was not the way the New York Yankees wanted to head into their showdown with the Red Sox.
Faced with five games in four days at Fenway Park, the Yankees played one of their sloppiest games of the season yesterday, a 12-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles that featured Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter botching a popup.
``We stunk today," manager Joe Torre said. ``Hopefully, we got the stinker out of our system."
New York's AL East lead over Boston was cut to 1 1/2 games after the Yankees lost two of three to the Orioles. The Yankees have dropped seven of their last 12.
Yankee pitchers walked five Baltimore batters, and all of them scored. Brian Roberts, Nick Markakis, and Fernando Tatis homered for the Orioles -- the trio has combined for just 14 this season.
Jaret Wright (9-7) lasted just three-plus innings and walked four.
``I couldn't throw strikes," he said. ``I got myself in trouble. It was definitely frustrating. You never want to throw like that."
Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo said Wright dug his own hole.
``I think he just got wild," he said. ``We took a couple of close ones but he was just out of the zone quite a bit. I don't think it was our hitters being selective."
While Wright and four Yankee relievers struggled, Rodrigo Lopez (9-12), who entered leading the AL in runs (106) and hits (188) allowed, handcuffed New York on six hits through seven innings. He struck out eight and walked one.
Lopez retired Bobby Abreu with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth.
White Sox 5, Royals 4 -- Bobby Jenks got Mike Sweeney to ground into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded, and host Chicago increased its AL wild-card lead by holding off Kansas City.
The Royals rallied in the ninth as David DeJesus hit an RBI double off Jenks that made it 5-4. A quick play by Chicago center fielder Brian Anderson to get to the ball in left center forced Angel Berroa to hold at third instead of scoring the tying run on the hit.
Mark Buehrle (10-10), 0-6 in his previous eight starts, allowed two runs and six hits over six innings. Jenks got four outs for his 34th save in 36 chances.
Chicago took a two-game lead over Minnesota in the wild-card race.
Tigers 4, Rangers 2 -- Kenny Rogers pitched five plus-innings to pick up his first win since July 5, and Carlos Guillen homered to lift host Detroit.
Rogers (12-6), who hadn't won in his previous six starts, allowed two runs and five hits. He struck out one and walked four.
Blue Jays 6, Devil Rays 2 -- Bengie Molina hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer against Brian Meadows during a four-run eighth inning and came within a double of hitting for the cycle as visiting Toronto beat Tampa Bay.
A.J. Burnett (5-5) won his third straight start, giving up two runs and four hits in seven innings.
Indians 3, Twins 2 -- Paul Byrd pitched his first complete game in more than a year, scattering seven hits to lead visiting Cleveland over Minnesota.
Byrd (8-6) struck out three and walked none in his 14th complete game, his first since July 1, 2005, for the Angels at Kansas City. He had not had a decision in four starts since beating the Angels July 19.
Angels 5, Mariners 2 -- Vladimir Guerrero drove in three runs with a seventh-inning double as host Los Angeles beat Seattle.
Cardinals 2, Reds 1 -- Scott Rolen tied the score with a home run in the seventh inning, then hit a winning single in the ninth that led host St. Louis over Cincinnati.
Ken Griffey put Cincinnati ahead in the seventh against Jeff Weaver with his 25th homer of the season, the 561st of his career. The drive, which came after Griffey fouled off six straight pitches, was his 1,042d extra-base hit, breaking a tie with Pete Rose for 20th place.
Astros 7, Brewers 3 -- Lance Berkman and Aubrey Huff homered off Ben Sheets, and Jason Hirsh allowed three runs and three hits in 5 1/3 innings for his first major league win as visiting Houston beat Milwaukee to stop a five-game losing streak.
Braves 5, Nationals 0 -- Oscar Villarreal (9-1) threw five innings of one-hit ball in his first start in more than three years, Edgar Renteria stopped a hitless skid at 24 at-bats with three singles and two RBIs, and visiting Atlanta beat Washington.
Giants 8, Padres 4 -- Rookie Kevin Frandsen hit his first homer, a two-run shot, as visiting San Francisco completed a four-game sweep of San Diego.
Mets 7, Phillies 2 -- Carlos Delgado ended a 2 1/2-week homer drought by connecting twice, and visiting New York avoided a four-game sweep with a victory over Philadelphia.
Rockies 8, Diamondbacks 4 -- Left fielder Ryan Spilborghs homered and threw a runner out at the plate as host Colorado beat Arizona.