NEW YORK – Alex Rodriguez hit his major league-leading 17th home run Thursday night to help the New York Yankees rally for a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

The Yankees won their fourth straight and 15th in 17 games, and moved one-half game ahead of Boston, which lost in Toronto, for second place in the AL East. It’s the first time since April 10 New York was higher than third in the division.

The Yankees haven’t led the Red Sox in the standings since April 13, when New York was 4-4 and Boston was 3-5. The rivals open a three-game series on Friday night.

Rodriguez’s homer in the fifth inning against Jeremy Bonderman (5-3) followed a single by Hideki Matsui and gave the Yankees third baseman 49 RBIs, also tops in the majors.

The Tigers had an early 3-1 lead against Kevin Brown (4-4), who gave up 10 hits in seven innings.

Brown gave up leadoff singles in the first two innings but escaped both times.

Mariano Rivera gave up a single to Jason Smith in the ninth but struck out the side for 11th save.

Devil Rays 2, Athletics 1

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Hideo Nomo took a shutout into the eighth inning and Carl Crawford snapped a scoreless tie with a sixth-inning single to help the Tampa Bay Devil Rays beat the Oakland Athletics 2-1 Thursday.

Nomo struck out seven and walked two before leaving the game after yielding a leadoff homer to Marco Scutaro and a one-out single to Jason Kendall in the eighth. The Devil Rays bullpen then protected a one-run lead to give the 36-year-old right-hander his 199th win in his career in the United States and Japan.

It was Nomo’s seventh attempt to move within one win of the 200 victories he needs to automatically gain membership in the Meikyuakai, one of two Hall of Fame equivalents in Japanese baseball. He has 121 wins in 11 major league seasons.

Orioles 5, Mariners 2

BALTIMORE – Melvin Mora, Rafael Palmeiro and Miguel Tejada homered to back a strong pitching performance by Daniel Cabrera, and the Baltimore Orioles completed a three-game sweep of the Seattle Mariners with a 5-2 victory Thursday night.

Mora had three hits for the Orioles, whose eighth win in 11 games moved them a season-high 14 games over .500 (30-16). Baltimore has won eight in a row at Camden Yards against the Mariners, who have lost six straight and 10 of 11 on the road under former Orioles manager Mike Hargrove.

Cabrera (4-3) allowed one run and three hits in seven innings before leaving with a 3-1 lead. The right-hander struck out eight and walked two.

Jorge Julio struck out Richie Sexson with two outs and runners at the corners in the eighth before Tejada hit a two-run homer off Shigetoshi Hasegawa in the bottom half.

Rangers 8, Royals 1

ARLINGTON, Texas – Kenny Rogers didn’t have to be at his sharpest to win his sixth straight start for the Texas Rangers, who hit three home runs in an 8-1 win Thursday night to complete a sweep of Kansas City.

Rogers (6-2) gave up a run in the first and allowed six baserunners through the fourth, even with a three-up, three-down inning in that stretch. But the 40-year-old left-hander held the Royals to that single run over seven innings, lowering his AL-leading ERA to 1.69.

Richard Hidalgo homered for the fifth time in five games, and Alfonso Soriano and Mark Teixeira also homered in Texas’ sixth straight win – the longest current streak in the majors.

Pirates 8, Reds 4

CINCINNATI – Oliver Perez continued his success against the Cincinnati Reds and got plenty of support from a balanced offense, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to an 8-4 victory Thursday night that snapped a four-game losing streak.

Daryle Ward and Matt Lawton hit home runs and Rob Mackowiak drove in three runs as the Pirates won for the seventh time in their last 10 games in Cincinnati and snapped the Reds’ three-game winning streak. Eight of Pittsburgh’s nine starters had at least one hit apiece by the sixth inning, including two by Perez.

Perez (3-4) has posted back-to-back wins for the first time this season, and he is 5-0 in seven starts against the Reds dating to last season. He allowed three hits and two runs with five walks and eight strikeouts in 5 1-3 innings.

Twins 5, Indians 4

CLEVELAND – Shannon Stewart homered with two outs in the 11th inning off David Riske to give the Minnesota Twins a 5-4 win over the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night and a split of their tight, four-game series.

Stewart ripped a 2-2 pitch from Riske (1-2) over the wall in straightaway center field and into the empty picnic pavilion as the Twins won the third straight extra-inning game between the AL Central rivals.

Of the 10 games between Minnesota and Cleveland this season, six have been decided by one run.

The Indians had not gone to extras against the same team in three games in a row since Aug. 28-30, 1967, at Kansas City.

Rockies 5, Cubs 2

CHICAGO – Jason Jennings pitched seven strong innings, and Preston Wilson and Todd Greene hit solo homers as the Colorado Rockies snapped a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Thursday.

Jennings (2-6), who entered with a 7.05 ERA, allowed one run on seven hits. He walked two and struck out two.

After Neifi Perez and Todd Walker led off the Rockies’ eighth with a single and a walk, Jay Witasick relieved Jennings and retired Derrek Lee, Jeromy Burnitz and Aramis Ramirez – the Nos. 3, 4 and 5 hitters – to end the threat.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.