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Yankees pull within 2 1/2 games of Red Sox

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

By The Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Mike Mussina allowed three singles over seven innings and Doug Mientkiewicz hit a three-run homer as New York beat Baltimore 12-0 on Tuesday night to pull within 2 1/2 games of Boston in the AL East.

New York, which has won 11 of 13, is as close to the first-place Red Sox, who lost 4-3 to Toronto, as it has been since before play on April 21. They also opened a 4 1/2-game lead over Detroit in the wild-card race.

Mientkiewicz also had an RBI single, and Melky Cabrera and Hideki Matsui both drove in three runs for the Yankees, who are closing in on their 13th straight playoff appearance. Derek Jeter added three hits.

Ramon Hernandez singled twice and Miguel Tejada reached on an infield dribbler in the seventh for Baltimore's only hits off Mussina (10-10). Mussina struck out six, walked one and has thrown 12 2-3 scoreless innings over two outings since returning to the rotation. He has won at least 10 games in an AL-record 16 straight seasons.

Jon Leicester (2-2) allowed six runs and six hits in four innings in his first career appearance against New York.

Blue Jays 4, Red Sox 3

TORONTO (AP) -- A.J. Burnett came within one out of a complete game and Russ Adams drove in the go-ahead run with a two-run double in the eighth inning to lead Toronto.

Boston has lost three straight and had its lead in the AL East cut to 2 1/2 games over New York, after the Yankees' 12-0 victory over Baltimore. It's the smallest Red Sox lead since before play on April 26.

Boston led 2-1 in the eighth when Frank Thomas drew a two-out walk off reliever Eric Gagne (3-2). Aaron Hill singled and Matt Stairs walked before Gregg Zaun drew a five-pitch walk to tie the game. Adams' double then barely cleared the outstretched arm of J.D. Drew in right field. Hill and Stairs scored but Zaun was thrown out at the plate.

Burnett (9-7) started the ninth and got the first two outs before Julio Lugo homered to left. Scott Downs came on to face Jacoby Ellsbury and got him looking for his first save.

Burnett improved to 4-1 in eight starts since returning from the disabled list Aug. 12 after missing 37 games with a sore shoulder. He gave up three runs and nine hits, striking out 11 and walking three -- one intentional.

Red Sox starter Jon Lester clamped down after a shaky first inning. He allowed one run and three hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Indians 7, Tigers 4

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Travis Hafner hit a three-run homer, and Cleveland unloaded for four homers off Justin Verlander.

Now 19-5 since Aug. 25, the Indians pushed their lead in the AL Central to 6 1/2 games over second-place Detroit. They reduced their magic number to five for clinching the division and a first playoff appearance since 2001.

Franklin Gutierrez hit a two-run homer and Victor Martinez and Ryan Garko added solo shots off Verlander (17-6), who had never given up four homers before and lost for just the second time in nine starts. Both of those were lopsided losses to the Indians.

Rookie Jensen Lewis (1-1) pitched three hitless innings for his first major league win. Joe Borowski worked the ninth for his league-leading 41st save.

The Tigers, who lost 6-5 in 11 innings on Monday, stranded 10 runners over the first five innings.

Martinez snapped a 4-4 tie in the sixth with his career-high 24th homer -- and fourth in 24 at-bats off Verlander.

The Tigers led 4-1 in the fourth before Hafner hit his 23rd homer.

Twins 4, Rangers 2

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Torii Hunter drove in two runs to set his career high for a season and Minnesota took advantage of shaky defense by Texas.

Rangers shortstop Michael Young made two of his three errors in the third inning when the Twins took a 2-1 lead.

Nick Punto led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on Young's throwing error. He was thrown out at third during a rundown, but Jason Bartlett, whose chopper started the play, made it to second.

Jason Kubel followed with a grounder to Young, who threw it away for his second error, allowing Bartlett to score.

Hunter then drove in Kubel and set a career-high with his 103rd RBI. Hunter drove in another run with a double in the seventh that gave the Twins a 4-2 lead.

Joe Nathan worked the ninth for his 33rd save.

Young committed his third error trying to turn a double play in the sixth.

Carlos Silva (12-14) gave up two runs and seven hits and struck out five in six innings.

Kevin Millwood (9-13) gave up four runs -- two earned -- and 10 hits in 6 2-3 innings.

Royals 3, White Sox 2

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Gil Meche scattered four hits over seven innings, and Billy Butler drove in two runs for Kansas City.

Meche (9-12) has a 2.90 ERA over his past eight starts and has not allowed more than three runs in any of them. But he has had some of the worst run-support in baseball, and is just 2-3 over that stretch. He gave up two runs, one earned, while striking out five and walking two.

The Royals took a 3-0 lead in the first when the first four batters collected hits off Gavin Floyd (1-3).

David DeJesus and Mark Grudzielanek led off with singles, and Ross Gload's double to right-center drove in DeJesus. Butler followed with a two-run single.

Rookie Joakim Soria pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, for his 16th save.

Floyd went six innings, allowing nine hits and three runs.



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