Chamberlain pitches Yankees to 8-3 win over A’s

NEW YORK – Joba Chamberlain pitched into the eighth inning and allowed two hits, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon provided the offense and the New York Yankees beat the Oakland Athletics 8-3 on Friday night for their eighth straight win.

Chamberlain (6-2) was dominant for the second straight start, giving up a run in the first.

Damon drove in three runs, Jeter had two RBIs and Jorge Posada hit a solo homer for the Yankees, who are 21-5 over the last month to seize control of the AL East. Oakland has lost eight straight to New York and 17 of 26 overall.

Brett Anderson (5-8), who came into the game riding a 21-inning scoreless streak, lost for the first time in six starts.

Cubs 8, Reds 5

CHICAGO — Aramis Ramirez is giving the Chicago Cubs the clutch hitting they have lacked, even while he is in pain.

Ramirez homered to snap a sixth-inning tie and had a pair of two-out, run-producing hits in his most productive game since coming off the disabled list, leading the Cubs to an 8-5 victory over the Cincinnati Reds on Friday.

“The good two-out hitting,” Cubs manager Lou Piniella said when asked what he missed most during Ramirez’s absence. “He knows how to drive in runs. He’s done it his whole career. He’s a good, professional bat in the middle part of your lineup. We’ve missed that for a long, long time here. Get him going and it really helps.”

It took time to get Ramirez going. In his first 11 games after missing nearly two months due to a separated shoulder, Ramirez was batting .190 with two RBIs. But he followed Wednesday’s two-hit, two-RBI game at Philadelphia with Friday’s four-hit performance.

“It’s there, and it’s going to be there,” Ramirez, who winces after some swings, said of his shoulder pain. “I’m going to have to deal with it.”

He has driven in 100-plus runs six times. That bat is good medicine for an ailing Cubs offense that entered Friday batting .224 with two outs and runners in scoring position.

“I’m the cleanup hitter, and I’m here to drive in runs in key situations,” Ramirez said. “Any time you lose your cleanup hitter, it’s going to affect everybody. We have a great team. The second half we’re playing pretty good, and hopefully we keep going.”

Mike Fontenot, Jeff Baker and Derrek Lee also homered for the Cubs, who have won eight of 11 games.

The Reds dropped their sixth straight road game despite starting pitcher Aaron Harang’s first career home run. At 44-51, they are a season-worst seven games under .500 – and they’re not happy about it.

Padres 6, Nationals 2

WASHINGTON — Rookie Mat Latos pitched into the sixth inning to notch his first career victory, light-hitting Luis Rodriguez homered and matched a career high with three RBIs and the San Diego Padres snapped their five-game skid with a 6-2 win over the Washington Nationals on Friday night.

Latos (1-1), who lost in his major league debut July 18, allowed two runs and five hits over 5 2-3 innings. He walked two and struck out five.

Cristian Guzman and Ryan Zimmerman homered for the Nationals, who have lost 13 of 16 and have the majors’ worst record at 28-68. Washington committed four errors for the third time this season.

Rays 4, Blue Jays 2

TORONTO — Evan Longoria hit a two-run double in the 10th inning and the Tampa Bay Rays spoiled what could have been Roy Halladay’s final start with Toronto, beating the Blue Jays 4-2 on Friday night.

Halladay, the most sought-after player available on the trade market, pitched nine innings, then the Rays scored the go-ahead run against Scott Downs (1-2).

With one out, B.J. Upton reached on a fielder’s choice and went to second when Carl Crawford walked. Longoria followed with a double that dropped just in front of left fielder Joe Inglett.

Matt Garza (7-7) won for the first time in four starts by allowing two runs and five hits in nine innings, his longest outing this season. He walked none and struck out nine.

J.P. Howell closed it out for his 11th save in 16 chances.

Halladay allowed two runs, one earned, and four hits. He walked three and struck out 10, the eighth 10-strikeout game of his career.

He got his first standing ovation of the night before the game was under way, with fans rising to applaud as he walked in from the bullpen.

Still, the possibility that this could be Halladay’s final start in home colors did little to boost the crowd, announced at 24,151.

 Astros 5, Mets 4.

HOUSTON — Mike Hampton hit a two-run homer off Johan Santana and the Houston Astros beat the Mets 5-4 on Friday night, handing the New York ace a rare loss after the All-Star break.

Chris Coste had a two-run double for the Astros, who’ve won seven of the last nine meetings with the Mets at Minute Maid Park.

Santana (11-8) went 8-0 in 15 second-half starts last season and beat Atlanta on Saturday, his first start after the break. He allowed 12 hits on Friday, matching a career high, in 6 2-3 innings and lost for the third time in five starts.

Hampton (6-7) struck out seven in 5 2-3 innings, guiding the Astros to their 10th win in 13 games. Jose Valverde pitched a perfect ninth for his 11th save in 15 chances.

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