American League roundup: Yanks spank Rangers

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NEW YORK (AP) — For the first time since the days of Ruth and Gehrig, the New York Yankees have won four straight series to start a season.

Alex Rodriguez passed Mark McGwire for eighth place with his 584th home run, Derek Jeter also connected and A.J. Burnett pitched seven shutout innings Saturday to lead the surging Yankees over the Rangers 7-3.

After taking two of three against Boston, Tampa Bay and the Los Angeles Angels, the defending World Series champions swept the opening two games of a three-game set against Texas.

Not since 1926, the first year Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig started the season together, had the Yankees won their first four series.The only other year they achieved the feat was 1922, when they were still playing at the Polo Grounds.

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On a historic anniversary in Yankees history — Mickey Mantle made his debut on April 17, 1951, and Bob Sheppard announced his first game that afternoon — New York improved to 8-3 for its best 11-game start since 2003.

Brett Gardner had three of the Yankees’ six infield hits and Jeter also had three hits, helping Joe Girardi to his 200th win as New York’s manager. Jorge Posada had two hits to reach 1,500, joining Yogi Berra, Bill Dickey and Thurman Munson as the only players who were primarily catchers to reach the mark for the Yankees.

Burnett (2-0) allowed six hits, struck out seven and walked two to win his second straight start.

Scott Feldman (1-1) gave up four runs and seven hits in 2 1-3 innings — matching the shortest start of his big league career — as Texas lost its third in a row.

Nelson Cruz hit a three-run homer in the eighth off Alfredo Aceves, Cruz’s major league-leading seventh home run this season.

Twins 6, Royals 5

MINNEAPOLIS — Orlando Hudson hit a game-winning home run leading off the eighth inning, the Twins’ bullpen pitched four scoreless innings and Minnesota stretched its winning streak to five games with a 6-5 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

With the game tied 5-5, Hudson hit a shot off Kansas City reliever John Parrish (1-1) that bounced off the facing of the second level of seats in left field at Target Field. It was Hudson’s first home run since signing with the Twins as a free agent in the offseason.

Brian Duensing (2-0) pitched two innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win. Matt Guerrier pitched a scoreless eighth and John Rausch held on to secure his sixth save of the season.

Rausch had to work for the save after Alberto Callaspo led off the ninth with a single to right. A pair of sacrifices moved Callaspo to third and Rausch walked Alex Gordon to put runners at the corners. He then struck out Kansas City leadoff hitter David DeJesus looking to end the game.

The victory, combined with Friday night’s win over the Royals, guarantees that the Twins will win their fourth-straight series to open the season.

Trailing 5-3, the Royals tied the game with a pair of runs in the fifth inning. Yuniesky Betancourt led off with a single off Minnesota starter Josh Blackburn. Willie Bloomquist knocked him in with a double to left field and scored on Scott Podsednik’s single.

Blackburn pitched five innings for the Twins, his shortest outing of the season. He gave up five earned runs on seven hits, while striking out three in front of a crowd of 38,564.

Angels 6, Blue Jays 3

TORONTO — Howie Kendrick and Juan Rivera homered, Joe Saunders pitched eight strong innings and the Los Angeles Angels beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-3.

Kendrick went 3 for 5 with three RBIs and scored twice as the Angels won back-to-back games for the first time this season. The Blue Jays lost consecutive games for the first time.

Saunders (1-2) came in 0-2 with a 7.36 ERA, but was sharp in this one, allowing two runs, none earned, and five hits. The left-hander walked one, struck out two, lowered his ERA to 4.26 and improved his record in April to 11-3.

Fernando Rodney closed it out in the ninth for his third save and second in as many days.

Los Angeles jumped in front before Blue Jays left-hander Brian Tallet (1-1) could record an out. Erick Aybar led off the first with a walk and Kendrick followed with a two-run homer to left, his first.

Rivera led off the second with a towering shot into the fourth deck in left, his third.

The Angels made it 4-0 in the third on back-to-back doubles by Torii Hunter and Hideki Matsui.

Sloppy defense allowed Toronto to halve the deficit in the bottom of the third. John McDonald doubled and scored when third baseman Brandon Wood couldn’t come up with Mike McCoy’s chopper down the line. McCoy wound up at second and scored when Wood threw wildly to first on a grounder by Alex Gonzalez.

Tallet allowed four runs and five hits in five innings. He walked one and struck out three.

Indians 3, White Sox 2

CLEVELAND ( — Shin-Soo Choo hit a go-ahead RBI double in a two-run eighth inning, lifting the Cleveland Indians to a 3-2 win over the Chicago White Sox.

Chicago starter Jake Peavy was five outs from his first win of the season, but Asdrubal Cabrera homered with one-out in the eighth to tie it.

Matt Thornton (1-1) gave up Grady Sizemore’s single. Choo lined a 1-2 pitch to the wall in left-center and Sizemore scored easily.

Jensen Lewis (2-0) pitched a scoreless eighth. Chris Perez worked the ninth for his third save in four chances.

Jake Westbrook took a two-hit shutout into the sixth, but Mark Teahen drew a leadoff walk, stole second and scored on Alexi Ramirez’s double. The White Sox had runners on first and third with one out, but Carlos Quentin hit into a double play.

Chicago took the lead in the seventh. Andruw Jones started the rally with a one-out single and took second on a groundout. Alex Rios doubled to left-center with two outs on Westbrook’s first pitch.

Westbrook, who hasn’t won since beating the Angels on April 8, 2008, gave up two runs in seven innings. He had surgery on his right elbow in June of that season and missed all of 2009.

Cleveland’s first run came on an unusual play. Sizemore tripled to left-center and scored when Choo lined an apparent double to right. However, when Travis Hafner came to bat, the white Sox appealed at first base, claiming Choo missed the bag. First base umpire Dan Bellino called Choo out. Under Rule 10.06 d, Choo lost his base hit and the play was ruled a fielder’s choice with an RBI.

Athletics 4, Orioles 3

OAKLAND, Calif. — Ryan Sweeney hit a game-ending two-run single with one out in the ninth inning, giving the Oakland Athletics a 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles.

Adam Rosales singled leading off the ninth and advanced to second on a sacrifice. Rajai Davis struck out but reached base on a wild pitch before the Orioles opted to intentionally walk Daric Barton and load the bases. Sweeney, who earlier extended his major league-leading hitting streak to 12 games, singled to right to drive in pinch-runner Eric Patterson — he took over for Rosales at second base — and Davis, who easily scored ahead of the throw from Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis.

Jeremy Blevins (2-0) pitched an inning for the win. Oakland has won nine straight home games against Baltimore.

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