KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The lowly Kansas City Royals completed a stunning sweep of the New York Yankees with a 5-2 victory Thursday night behind consecutive home runs from Matt Stairs and Terrence Long.

Kansas City, which has the worst record and second-lowest payroll in the major leagues, finished its first three-game sweep of the Yankees at home in 15 years.

With Buddy Bell improving to 3-0 as their manager, the Royals earned their first sweep of anybody in 78 series. It was the longest drought in the majors since the Phillies went 79 series without a sweep from 1996-97.

The Royals, whose opening-day payroll of less than $40 million was dwarfed by the nearly $206 million of the Yankees, got key contributions from several rookies and recycled veterans in beating New York 5-3, 3-1 and 5-2 in what will almost surely be one of the most improbable sweeps of the season.

Twins 4, Indians 3

MINNEAPOLIS – Johan Santana tied a career high with 14 strikeouts, and Jacque Jones’ single in the 13th inning gave the Minnesota Twins a 4-3 victory Thursday over the Cleveland Indians.

Lew Ford’s hustle turned his base hit off Rafael Betancourt (1-2) into a one-out double in the 13th.

Two batters later, Jones hit a liner to right and Ford raced around third, beating Casey Blake’s throw to the plate.

Tigers 6, Rangers 5

DETROIT – Craig Monroe singled home Ivan Rodriguez with the winning run in the 10th inning, and the Detroit Tigers rallied for a 6-5 victory over the Texas Rangers on Thursday.

Rondell White homered and drove in three runs for the Tigers, who snapped Texas’ nine-game winning streak Wednesday night.

The Rangers took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the ninth this time, but Detroit rallied against All-Star closer Francisco Cordero on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Carlos Guillen and a two-out RBI single by Omar Infante. It was Cordero’s third blown save in 19 chances.

Nationals 8, Braves 6

WASHINGTON – Backup catcher Gary Bennett drove in five runs, three on a bases-loaded double in the eighth inning, leading the Washington Nationals over the Atlanta Braves 8-6 Thursday night.

Washington scored five runs in the eighth, including four off struggling Dan Kolb (1-5).

The Nationals’ rally came after the Braves had scored four in the top of the inning to take a 6-3 lead.

Carlos Baerga pulled a grounder through the right side of the infield to score Jamey Carroll, followed by Vinny Castilla’s RBI double that cut Atlanta’s lead to 6-5.

Mets 6, D-backs 1

NEW YORK – Pedro Martinez pitched eight sharp innings and got a customary home run from Carlos Beltran as the New York Mets defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 6-1 Thursday night.

Martinez (6-1) dominated the Diamondbacks, striking out nine to increase his NL-leading total to 92. Beltran hit his seventh homer of the season, all in games started by Martinez.

Cliff Floyd, who batted .395 during a 20-game hitting streak from April 8 to May 4 but hit just .202 last month, had a pair of doubles against Shawn Estes (4-4), driving in one run and scoring another.

Phillies 6, Giants 5

PHILADELPHIA – David Bell and Jimmy Rollins each drove in two runs, and Jon Lieber won his second straight start to help the Philadelphia Phillies return to .500 with a 6-5 victory over the slumping San Francisco Giants on Thursday night.

The Phillies (27-27) swept the three-game series and moved back to .500 for the first time since they were 8-8 on April 21. They haven’t had a winning record since April 18, but have won 12 of 18 and open a four-game series at home against Arizona on Friday.

Marlins 6, Pirates 3

PITTSBURGH – Dontrelle Willis halted Florida’s nine-game losing streak in Pittsburgh, getting homers from Carlos Delgado and Damion Easley to become the majors’ first nine-game winner with a 6-3 victory over the Pirates on Thursday night.

The Marlins hadn’t won in Pittsburgh since an 11-1 victory on Sept. 8, 2002, and were in danger of being swept in PNC Park for the third consecutive season after the Pirates won the first three games of the four-game series.

Rockies 8, Cardinals 7

DENVER – Todd Helton tied the game with a two-run single in the ninth inning, and Brad Hawpe followed with the winning walk Thursday to help the Colorado Rockies defeat St. Louis 8-7 and hand Cardinals closer Jason Isringhausen his first blown save of the season.

Helton, in a 4-for-54 slump coming into the game, sent a 3-2 pitch from Isringhausen into right field to tie it at 7. The Cardinals intentionally walked Matt Holliday – who had two homers and a double – then brought in Randy Flores to face Hawpe.


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