NEW YORK – Randy Johnson tantalized the crowd, taking a no-hit bid into the sixth inning. More importantly, he gave the New York Yankees’ broken-down pitching rotation a dominant win.

Johnson pitched two-hit ball for eight innings and struck out 11, leading the Yankees over the Minnesota Twins 4-0 Tuesday night.

Before the game, the Yankees learned Kevin Brown’s balky back will prevent him from starting Thursday. They also pushed back Carl Pavano from his Saturday outing against the Angels, deciding not to rush his return from a sore shoulder. That left New York with two holes to fill in its rotation during the six-game homestand.

Johnson (11-6), who matched his season strikeout high, showed no signs of the minor back pain that caused the Yankees to cut short his start in Anaheim last week. He hit Shannon Stewart with his second pitch of the game, then got Nick Punto to ground into a double play, getting 17 straight outs until Juan Castro bounced a single up the middle with two outs in the sixth, past the Big Unit and a few feet beyond the outstretched glove of shortstop Derek Jeter.

Orioles 5, Rangers 4

BALTIMORE – Sammy Sosa hit his 586th home run to tie Frank Robinson for fifth place on the career list, and the Baltimore Orioles ended a six-game skid by defeating the Texas Rangers 5-4 Tuesday night.

Javy Lopez hit a tiebreaking homer off former teammate James Baldwin (0-1) in the eighth, and Luis Matos also connected for the Orioles, who avoided their longest losing streak of the season by winning for the first time since July 18.

Sosa gave Baltimore a 4-1 lead in the sixth inning lead with his 12th homer of the season, a two-run shot to center. He took his trademark hop out of the batter’s box, but waited near first base to make sure the drive cleared the wall.

He then thrust his arm outward as the ball landed in the Baltimore bullpen. It was Sosa’s second homer in three games, but only the third since June 18.

Blue Jays 8, Angels 0

TORONTO – Gustavo Chacin pitched eight scoreless innings and Shea Hillenbrand homered and had four RBIs to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to an 8-0 victory over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday night.

Hillenbrand had three hits for the Blue Jays, who moved one game over .500 (50-49).

Toronto third baseman Corey Koskie went 1-for-4 with a walk in his first game since breaking a thumb on May 19. The Blue Jays also announced that ace Roy Halladay could return as early as next week after being sidelined since July 8 when he was hit with a line drive that broke a bone in his left leg.

Chacin (10-5), pitching against the Angels for the first time in his career, and Miguel Batista combined on the seven-hitter. The Angels have been shut out five times this season.

Pirates 6, Marlins 3

MIAMI – Matt Lawton and Chris Duffy had four hits apiece, helping the Pittsburgh Pirates come from behind twice to beat the Florida Marlins 6-3 on Tuesday night.

Josh Fogg (5-6) lasted just 5 1-3 innings but won for the first time in 10 starts since his most recent victory on June 1, also against Florida. He gave up three runs and nine hits but singled home the Pirates’ first run for his first RBI of the season.

Daryle Ward drove in three runs for the Pirates, who overcame deficits of 1-0 and 3-2 to win for the fourth time in five games. They are 13-4 against Florida since the start of 2003, with wins in eight of the past nine meetings.

Lawton and Duffy, batting 1-2, sparked Pittsburgh’s 15-hit attack. Lawton went 4-for-4 with a walk. He singled home a run in the second, and doubled and scored in the sixth. Duffy went 4-for-5, scored twice, drove in a run and stole his first two bases of the season.

Braves 3, Nationals 2

ATLANTA – Andruw Jones drew a bases-loaded walk from Luis Ayala in the 10th inning, capping a comeback that gave the Atlanta Braves a 3-2 victory Tuesday night over the Washington Nationals and sole possession of first place in the NL East.

Washington closer Chad Cordero blew a 2-1 lead in the ninth, spoiling a strong start by Livan Hernandez against Atlanta’s John Smoltz in a matchup of All-Star pitchers. The Braves tied it when Jones doubled and scored on a sacrifice fly by Adam LaRoche, who homered earlier.

Rookie catcher Brian McCann led off the 10th with a single against Mike Stanton (0-1), and pinch-runner Jeff Francoeur advanced to second on pinch-hitter Julio Franco’s sacrifice. Nationals manager Frank Robinson ordered an intentional walk to Rafael Furcal.

Astros 2, Phillies 1

HOUSTON – Mike Lamb led off the bottom of the ninth with a home run and Roy Oswalt threw a complete game to move into a tie for the most wins in the National League as the Houston Astros beat the Philadelphia Phillies 2-1 on Tuesday night.

Houston has won nine of its last 10 games and 21 of 28. Philadelphia has lost eight of it last 11 road games. Lamb, in only his 43rd start of the season, hit his sixth homer of the season.

Oswalt (14-8) tied St. Louis’ Chris Carpenter for the NL lead in victories as he improved to 10-1 at home. Oswalt leads the majors in wins since the 2004 All-Star break with 26.

Brewers 7, D-backs 2

MILWAUKEE – Geoff Jenkins homered to open the Milwaukee Brewers’ six-run seventh inning, and Lyle Overbay also connected in a 7-2 come-from-behind victory over Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.

Trailing 2-1 heading into the seventh, the Brewers started the inning with four straight hits and sent 10 batters to the plate.

Jenkins led off with his 13th homer off Brandon Webb (8-8), then Russell Branyan singled and Damian Miller doubled to chase Arizona’s starter.

J.J Hardy greeted reliever Lance Cormier with an RBI single. Pinch-hitter Chris Magruder followed with a sacrifice fly to make it 4-2.

Brady Clark then hit a ground-rule double and Rickie Weeks reached on shortstop Royce Clayton’s two-base error that allowed Hardy and Clark to score.

Carlos Lee finished the rally with an RBI single, his NL-leading 84th RBI that gave Milwaukee a 7-2 lead.

Rookie Dana Eveland (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for his first major league victory.

Webb, who missed his scheduled start Monday with a viral infection, allowed four runs on eight hits in six-plus innings. He has struggled since starting the season with six straight wins and three no-decisions. Since beating San Francisco June 23, he is 0-5 with a no-decision in his last six starts.

Milwaukee starter Chris Capuano faced his former team for the first time since being acquired in the deal that sent Richie Sexson to Arizona on Dec. 1, 2003. The Brewers also received Overbay, Chad Moeller, Junior Spivey, Craig Counsell and Jorge De La Rosa in the deal.

On Tuesday, Capuano gave up two runs – one earned- on four hits in five innings. He struck out six and walked three in his first loss since June 13 at Tampa Bay, a span of eight starts.

Clark, who was 8-for-20 in his last 11 games, led off the second with his 16th home run and gave Arizona the early lead.

The Diamondbacks turned two fielding errors into an unearned run in the third.

Chris Synder walked and advanced on Counsell’s one-out single to center. Clayton hit a grounder to shortstop Hardy who could not field the potential doble-play ball and was charged with an error.

Luis Gonzalez then hit a two-hopper back to Capuano who let the ball squirt under his glove for the second error as Synder scored. Clark hit into a double play, started by Hardy, to end the inning.

Overbay pulled the Brewers to 2-1 in the fourth with his 16th homer, a solo shot to right that tied his career high. Manager Ned Yost was ejected by first base umpire Ron Kulpa after Jenkins was called out to end the inning.

Jenkins had hit a grounder that hugged the line, but was grabbed by first baseman Clark just before it rolled foul. When Clark stepped on the bag for the out, Yost came out to argue the ball was foul and was ejected for the second time this season.

Notes: Brewers owner Mark Attanasio was nearly hit by an errant throw during pregame practice. LF Lee was fielding grounders with INF Wes Helms at third base. Lee overthrew Overbay at first and almost nailed Attanasio who was filming a promotional spot in foul territory up the right-field line. Lee retreated to the dugout and jokingly yelled toward his teammates, “He was trying to hit you. Release him.” Later, Antanasio gave Lee a friendly slap on the back. … The Brewers added the names of former manager Harvey Kuenn and third baseman Don Money to the Miller Park Walk of Fame in pregame ceremonies. … Arizona 3B Troy Glaus missed his second consecutive game with back spasms.

AP-ES-07-26-05 2309EDT


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