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Tigers extend AL Central lead

Sean Casey hit a two-run homer and the Detroit Tigers beat the Royals, 7-3, last night in Kansas City, Mo., to take a 1 1/2-game lead over Minnesota in the AL Central.

The Twins lost earlier yesterday in Baltimore, and probably wish the Tigers did not have five games left with Kansas City.

Detroit improved to 12-1 this season against the Royals. After two more games in Kansas City, they finish the season at home with three against Toronto and three more with the Royals, who must win five of their last nine to avoid a third straight 100-loss season.

It was the Royals' first game under bench coach Billy Doran, who took over for manager Buddy Bell, who underwent throat surgery yesterday.

Wilfredo Ledezma (3-3) gave up three runs -- one earned -- in 5 2/3 innings. He walked three and struck out four.

Casey, a late-season acquisition from Pittsburgh, hit a 3-2 pitch over the fence in center to put the Tigers on top, 4-3, in the sixth.

The Tigers added three runs in the ninth on reliever Ryan Braun's three-base throwing error, Omar Infante's run-scoring triple, and Andrew Sisco's wild pitch.

Orioles 7, Twins 3 -- Daniel Cabrera took a four-hitter into the seventh inning and Brian Roberts homered and drove in three runs as host Baltimore slowed down Minnesota's playoff march. Torii Hunter scored twice for the Twins, who remained 5 1/2 games in front of the Chicago White Sox in the wild-card race.

Mariners 11, White Sox 6 -- Richie Sexson hit two long homers and visiting Seattle scored six runs in the second inning to beat Chicago and drive the defending World Series champions closer to playoff elimination.

The White Sox lost for the seventh time in eight games.

Yankees 4, Devil Rays 1 -- With Gary Sheffield and Mariano Rivera back, visiting New York kept rolling in pursuit of the best record in the American League and home-field advantage in the playoffs. Sheffield returned to the lineup for the first time since May 29, and made an impressive debut at first base. Rivera pitched the ninth and earned his 34th save in his first appearance since Aug. 31.

Padres 6, Pirates 2 -- Chris Young came within two outs of the first no-hitter in San Diego's 38-season history before allowing pinch-hitter Joe Randa's two-run homer in the host Padres' win over the Pirates. With the crowd of 40,077 on its feet and cheering every pitch, Randa momentarily silenced Petco Park with a 421-foot shot to straightaway center field. Jose Bautista walked ahead of Randa.

The Padres remain one of four teams (Mets, Rockies, Devil Rays) without a no-hitter.

Astros 6, Cardinals 5 -- Craig Biggio's two-out run-scoring single capped host Houston's two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth. It was the second straight game the Astros rallied to beat the Cardinals, whose magic number to win a third straight NL Central title remained at five.

Brewers 13, Giants 12 -- Barry Bonds hit his 733d homer, tying Hank Aaron's NL record, and drove in a season-high six runs but host Milwaukee outslugged slumping San Francisco. David Bell's infield single in the eighth inning drove in the go-ahead run for Milwaukee, which rallied from deficits of 4-0 and 12-10.

Bonds's three-run homer in the sixth off reliever Chris Spurling was his 25th of the season. The slugger is 22 homers from Aaron's career record of 755.

Reds 4, Cubs 2 -- Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer -- one of three off lefthander Rich Hill -- and Cincinnati opened its final home series of the season with a rain-shortened win.

Rockies 6, Braves 4 -- Todd Helton's two-run double off the wall in the fifth inning sparked Colorado over Atlanta on a wet and chilly night at Coors Field.

Nationals 3, Mets 2 --Alfonso Soriano became baseball's first 40-40-40 player, Pedro Astacio turned in a rare strong road start, and Washington picked up a rare road victory. The Nationals are 28-50 away from home. Soriano hit his 40th double, stole his 41st base, and scored a run. With 45 homers, he already was only the fourth major league player with 40 homers and 40 steals in a season.

Rangers 12, Indians 4 -- Mark Teixeira and Michael Young each drove in four runs, and Gary Matthews Jr. scored three times to carry host Texas.

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