NEW YORK – Rarely used reserve Bubba Crosby led off the bottom of the ninth inning with his first home run this season, giving the New York Yankees a 3-2 victory Monday night over the Baltimore Orioles.

Chien-Ming Wang pitched eight stellar innings and Alex Rodriguez had an RBI single for the surging Yankees, who have won seven of eight and 11 of 15. They began the night 11/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East and 11/2 back of Cleveland in the wild-card race.

Shuttled back and forth from Triple-A Columbus, Crosby served as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement most of the year. But he has begun to get semi-regular playing time recently because right fielder Gary Sheffield is nursing a strained left thigh muscle and has been relegated to DH duty.

The diminutive Crosby stepped to the plate in the ninth for his 72nd major league at-bat this season and drove a 1-0 pitch from Eric DuBose (1-3) over the right-center fence – one of the Yankees’ biggest hits all year.

He pumped his fist as he rounded first base and was mobbed at the plate by gleeful teammates. Then he came out for a curtain call.

It was Crosby’s second extra-base hit and fifth RBI all year. It also was his third hit of the game – he had a bunt single and an infield single from the No. 9 spot in the lineup.

Mariano Rivera (7-4) worked a perfect ninth for the win.

Mariners 7, Blue Jays 5

TORONTO – Richie Sexson hit a grand slam in the ninth inning to rally Seattle to a 7-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays, snapping the Mariners’ four-game losing streak.

Trailing 4-3 in the ninth, pinch-hitter Greg Dobbs led off with a single against struggling Toronto closer Miguel Batista (5-7). Ichiro Suzuki followed with a perfect bunt single – his fourth bunt hit since Sept 1.

Pinch-hitter Ramon Santiago advanced both runners with a sacrifice bunt. Batista intentionally walked Raul Ibanez to face Sexson, who hit the first pitch over the wall in right for his 38th homer, his third grand slam of the season and the ninth of his career.

It was the third time this season Sexson drove in five runs.

Batista has blown eight saves this season – four since Aug. 23.

Royals 10, Tigers 4

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Matt Stairs had three hits, including a three-run homer, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Detroit Tigers 10-4 before their smallest home crowd in 10 years.

The Tigers are 4-15 in September, and with 82 losses are assured of their 12th consecutive losing season.

The Royals, who have lost 99 games, drew an announced attendance of 8,915. That is the smallest crowd to see a Royals’ home game since July 5, 1995, when 7,511 watched them play Boston.

National League

Pirates 7, Astros 0

PITTSBURGH – That mismatch between 340-game winner Roger Clemens and zero-game winner Ian Snell turned out to be exactly that. Only not the way the Houston Astros figured it would be.

Snell limited the Astros to three singles over eight innings for his first career victory and Freddy Sanchez homered among his three extra-base hits against Clemens, leading the Pittsburgh Pirates to a 7-0 victory.

Padres 8, Rockies 7

DENVER – Khalil Greene hit two homers, including the game-winner in the ninth inning, to lift San Diego back over .500.

Greene took a 1-0 pitch off Rockies closer Brian Fuentes (2-4) to left-center to help the Padres win their third straight close game and improve to 75-74. They moved six games ahead of idle San Francisco in the weak NL West and their magic number shrunk to eight.

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Scott Linebrink (8-1) threw two scoreless innings for the win. Trevor Hoffman pitched the ninth for his 36th straight save and 39th overall.

This was Greene’s fourth career multihomer game. His first homer came in the second for a 2-0 lead. He also had a double


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