TORONTO – Gary Sheffield homered on a day he dealt with a controversy, and journeyman Aaron Small won again to lead the New York Yankees to a 6-2 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.

Sheffield, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter faced questions before the game about an interview Sheffield gave to New York magazine in which he strongly suggested he was the leader of the team. Manager Joe Torre said he would talk to Sheffield about his comments.

In his first at-bat, Sheffield hit a two-run shot off Gustavo Chacin (11-6).

Small (3-0) has helped stabilize the back of the Yankees’ battered rotation, winning three of his four starts since being brought up from the minors July 17. The 33-year-old right-hander hadn’t started a major league game since 1996 before last month, but injuries to Kevin Brown, Carl Pavano and Chien-Ming Wang forced the Yankees to search for starters.

Tanyon Sturtze gave up a run in the ninth, and Mariano Rivera got the last out for his 28th straight save since blowing his first two chances in the season-opening series against Boston.

Small allowed just one run on seven hits, while striking two and walking two in 6 1-3 innings. He benefited from two inning-ending double plays, including one with the bases loaded in the fifth.

Russ Adams drove in both runs for the Blue Jays with a pair of RBI singles.

Athletics 5, Royals 4

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Rookie Dan Johnson homered for the third consecutive game and the Oakland Athletics rallied from a three-run deficit to beat the Kansas City Royals 5-4 on Friday night.

The Royals have lost eight straight, while the A’s have won eight of nine.

Kansas City took a 4-3 lead into the eighth, but relievers Jeremy Affeldt (0-1) and Ambiorix Burgos allowed two runs, three walks, a single and a wild pitch. Bobby Kielty’s single off Burgos scored Bobby Crosby with the first run. A wild pitch by Burgos allowed Eric Chavez, who had walked, to score the go-ahead run.

Left-hander Joe Kennedy (2-0) allowed one hit in 2 1-3 scoreless innings in relief of Kirk Saarloos to pick up the victory.

Indians 9, Tigers 6

DETROIT – Casey Blake and Coco Crisp both homered and drove in three runs as the Cleveland Indians scored all their runs in the sixth inning and beat the Detroit Tigers 9-6 on Friday night.

Blake and Jhonny Peralta both had three of Cleveland’s 16 hits. The Indians sent 15 batters to the plate and had 10 hits in the sixth – both season highs for an inning – when they took a 9-1 lead.

C.C. Sabathia (7-9) broke a five-game losing streak, allowing five runs and five hits in six-plus innings, walking three and striking out five. His last win was on July 1. Bob Howry pitched the ninth for his third save in as many opportunities.

Rondell White and Brandon Inge homered for Detroit.

Mariners 4, White Sox 2

CHICAGO – Richie Sexson homered and later doubled in the go-ahead run, helping Joel Pineiro earn his first win in a month as the Seattle Mariners beat the Chicago White Sox 4-2 Friday night.

The White Sox (70-38) have the best record in the majors but have lost 10 of their last 14 home games.

Pineiro won for the first time since July 7, allowing eight hits and two runs in 6 1-3 innings, walking one and striking out four. The Mariners’ bullpen did the rest, pitching 2 2-3 innings of hitless relief.

Orioles 10, Rangers 5

ARLINGTON, Texas – Jay Gibbons and Brian Roberts homered in a six-run third inning, and the Baltimore Orioles beat the Texas Rangers 10-5 Friday night to remain unbeaten in two games under interim manager Sam Perlozzo.

The Orioles lost eight straight before Lee Mazzilli was fired as manager Thursday, and then won their series finale against Los Angeles in Perlozzo’s debut after being promoted from bench coach.

Baltimore’s Luis Matos had three hits and is 11-for-19 against Texas this season. Roberts also had three hits.

Cardinals 11, Braves 3

ST. LOUIS – Albert Pujols became the first player in major league history to hit 30 home runs in each of his first five seasons, helping Mark Mulder and the St. Louis Cardinals end John Smoltz’ eight-game winning streak with an 11-3 victory over the Atlanta Braves on Friday night.

Smoltz (12-6) lost for the first time since June 6, allowing five runs and six hits in six innings with six strikeouts and two intentional walks. He had a 2.05 ERA during the streak, which had been tied with Cardinals 16-game winner Chris Carpenter for the longest in the NL. He went at least seven innings in nine of 10 starts.

Pujols hit a two-run shot in the first for his 190th homer since breaking in with the Cardinals in 2001. His total of 160 homers over the first four seasons is second behind Ralph Kiner’s 168 from 1946-49. His five-year total is tied for second with Eddie Mathews, 25 behind Kiner.

Brewers 3, Phillies 1

PHILADELPHIA – Ben Sheets pitched nine dominant innings and Milwaukee took advantage of two Philadelphia errors on the same base hit in the 10th inning to beat the Phillies 3-1 on Friday night.

Sheets’ second-straight nine-inning effort was nearly wasted by the Brewers until they scored twice against mistake-prone Philadelphia.

Billy Hall singled leading off the 10th against Geoff Geary (1-1). Damian Miller followed by slicing a double to right that started the defensive trouble for the Phillies.

Right fielder Bobby Abreu was charged with an error when he one-hopped a throw to second baseman Chase Utley. Utley got the other error when his wild relay throw bounced into the dugout, allowing Hall and Miller to score for a 3-1 lead.

Mets 9, Cubs 5

NEW YORK – Mike Cameron and Cliff Floyd each had two-run hits in a six-run second inning, and the New York Mets used 14 singles to beat the Chicago Cubs 9-5 Friday night.

Despite the return of Nomar Garciaparra and Kerry Wood from injuries, the Cubs lost for the sixth time in eight games and dropped below .500 (54-55) for the first time since July 10, when they were 43-44.

In a matchup of teams that entered five games behind Houston for the wild-card lead, the Mets bounced back from two tough losses in a row by outclassing the Cubs in all areas.

Dodgers 12, Pirates 6

PITTSBURGH – Olmedo Saenz homered while driving in a career-high six runs and the Los Angeles Dodgers bounced back after being dominated in a shutout loss the night before, hitting three home runs in a 12-6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Friday night.

Saenz hit a three-run homer and a two-run double, and Jeff Kent and Ricky Ledee added solo shots as the often low-scoring Dodgers scored 10 or more runs for only the second time in two months. They were coming off a 4-0 loss Thursday in Washington, striking out 13 times against the Nationals’ John Patterson.

The Dodgers, losers of eight of their previous 12, arrived in Pittsburgh at just the right time for a team looking to get out of a slump. The Pirates have allowed 24 runs in their last two games and 43 runs in losing three of four to the Padres and Dodgers.

Marlins 5, Reds 1

CINCINNATI – Rookie Jason Vargas shut down the National League’s highest-scoring team, Miguel Cabrera and Alex Gonzalez homered, and the Florida Marlins beat the Cincinnati Reds 5-1 Friday night.

Vargas, making just his sixth appearance and second start since being called up from Double-A Carolina on July 14, threw six shutout innings before tiring in the seventh against the team that went into the game leading the league in runs, RBIs, home runs and slugging percentage.

The left-hander allowed three hits and one run with one walk and two strikeouts in 6 1-3 innings. He hit back-to-back batters with one out in the seventh, prompting manager Jack McKeon – the former Reds manager – to replace him with Antonio Alfonseca.

Padres 6, Nationals 5

WASHINGTON – Nationals starter Livan Hernandez tossed a glove, cap and jacket into the stands after being lifted in the sixth inning, and Washington went on to lose 6-5 to the San Diego Padres on Friday night on an unearned run in the ninth inning.

It was the second display of frustration by Hernandez in 21/2 weeks; he spoke vaguely about contemplating knee surgery and being mad at someone or something after a July 20 loss to Colorado.

Still, when he left Friday’s game, he was in line for the victory. That’s because backup catcher Gary Bennett put the Nationals ahead 5-4 with a two-run single in the fifth off Woody Williams. The Padres’ starter gave up five runs, four earned, four hits and six walks over 4 2-3 innings.

The Padres tied it at 5 in the eighth on Eric Young’s RBI single off Gary Majewski.

, then went ahead by scoring off closer Chad Cordero (2-3) – Washington’s sixth pitcher.

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