NEW YORK – Carl Crawford hit a two-run double and scored three times, Mark Hendrickson won his fifth straight decision and the Tampa Bay Devil Rays held off New York 7-4 Thursday night for yet another victory over the Yankees.

Jonny Gomes and Jorge Cantu also drove in two runs apiece, helping the last-place Devil Rays build a 6-0 lead and improve to 11-5 against New York this season.

The Yankees dropped two of three in this series – not the way they wanted to head into three big games in the Bronx against AL East-leading Boston this weekend. New York also fell a half-game behind Cleveland in the wild-card race.

Pirates 8, D-backs 7

PITTSBURGH – Humberto Cota singled home the winning run in the 12th inning, and the Pittsburgh Pirates overcame Tony Clark’s two homers and five RBIs to end a 10-game home losing streak with an 8-7 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday.

The Pirates had lost 10 in a row at home for only the second time in their 119-season history and the first time since 1968.

Their first victory in Pete Mackanin’s three games as interim manager also ended a six-game overall losing streak.

Pittsburgh was within two outs of losing following Clark’s second homer, a three-run go-ahead drive in the ninth, when Jason Bay hit a tying two-run shot – his 26th – in the bottom of the inning off Tim Worrell. Worrell blew his third save in four opportunities.

Royals 4, White Sox 2

CHICAGO – J.P. Howell combined with three relievers on a two-hitter and Angel Berroa had a go-ahead homer Thursday night as Kansas City finally broke through in Chicago’s home park, beating the White Sox 4-2 and ending a seven-game winning streak.

The Royals were 0-8 at Chicago this year before winning in their final road game against the White Sox this season. Kansas City is 3-12 against the White Sox overall.

Indians 4, Tigers 2

CLEVELAND – As if waving some magic wand, Kevin Millwood makes the most frightening situations disappear.

One instant, the bases are loaded. The next, it’s presto-chango, abracadabra and alakazam – inning over for the Cleveland Indians. Another head-scratching escape.

“It was like, Did I just see that?’ Detroit manager Alan Trammell said. “We’ve got the bases loaded and we’re all excited. Seconds later … Wow!”

Cardinals 5, Mets 0

ST. LOUIS – Chris Carpenter became the first 21-game winner in the major leagues, Albert Pujols homered twice and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the fading New York Mets 5-0 Thursday night.

New York has lost 10 of 12 following a 9-2 stretch, falling to 70-70.

zThe Mets, on the verge of taking the wild-card lead on Aug. 31 before Pedro Martinez faltered against Philadelphia, have lost eight of nine since then and dropped 51/2 games back of Houston, which leads in the wild-card chase.

St. Louis cut the magic number for clinching its second straight NL Central title to 10.

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