The Tampa Bay Rays entered May in better shape than they ever have before. And that's even before Scott Kazmir has thrown a pitch for them.
The Rays' ace will rejoin a group that just finished the best April in team history with a resounding 8-1 win over Baltimore on Wedensday night.
Andy Sonnanstine pitched eight innings of six-hit ball and Erik Hinske homered to finish off Tampa Bay's first winning April.
``It's something we can build on,'' Rays manager Joe Maddon said. ``Now let's have the best May in club history.''
In other AL games Wednesday, it was: Cleveland 8, Seattle 3; Boston 2, Toronto 1; the Los Angeles Angels 6, Oakland 1; Detroit 6, the N.Y. Yankees 2; Minnesota 4, Chicago White Sox 3; Texas 11, Kansas City 9.
The Rays' victory was their seventh in eight games and they finished 14-12 in April (after going 1-0 in March). Now in its 11th year of existence, Tampa Bay has never been three games over .500 this late in the season.
Sonnanstine (who entered with a 5.28 ERA) was one of three starters Maddon listed Tuesday as candidates to make way for Kazmir. At this point it would appear his job is safe.
``Unflappable is a word for him. He had one bad outing,'' Maddon said, referring to an April 14 game against New York in which Sonnanstine yielded seven runs in 3 1-3 innings. ``Since then he has rebounded and pitched his game.''
Hinske homered in the fourth inning after an infield hit by Evan Longoria to put the Rays up 3-1. He has six home runs, tied with Carlos Pena for the team lead.
Tampa Bay pulled away with a five-run seventh. After B.J. Upton chased Bob McCrory with an RBI single, Pena and Dioner Navarro hit two-run singles off Dennis Sarfate. Pena had gone 14 games without an RBI since April 12.
The loss dropped the Orioles - off to a nice start themselves - into a second-place tie with Tampa Bay in the AL East behind Boston, a 2-1 winner over Toronto.
Indians 8, Mariners 3
In Cleveland, Cliff Lee won his fifth straight start to improve to 5-0, even though his consecutive scoreless innings streak ended at 27 and his ERA rose from 0.28 to 0.96.
Lee has given up four earned runs in 37 2-3 innings in his five starts.
Red Sox 2, Blue Jays 1
Manny Ramirez slid in just ahead of the tag on Jason Varitek's single in the ninth, giving host Boston its second straight win in its last at-bat.
Ramirez barely beat the throw from center fielder Vernon Wells, who threw out Jed Lowrie at the plate on the previous play, a single by Brandon Moss. The Red Sox beat the Blue Jays 1-0 on Tuesday night on Kevin Youkilis' RBI single in the ninth.
Jonathan Papelbon (2-0) won for the second straight night as Boston took the lead in its last at-bat for the fifth time in its last six victories.
Angels 6, Athletics 1
In Anaheim, Calif., Ervin Santana remained unbeaten in six starts and Casey Kotchman drove in three runs with a pair of doubles.
Santana (5-0) allowed an unearned run and four hits over 6 2-3 innings with three strikeouts and a walk.
The Angels have two pitchers with 5-0 records in April during the same season for the first time in their 48-year history. Joe Saunders beat the A's 2-0 Tuesday night for his fifth win in six starts.
Dana Eveland (3-2) allowed six runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Tigers 6, Yankees 2
Placido Polanco homered twice and Marcus Thames also went deep off Andy Pettitte (3-3) to help visiting Detroit to its seventh win in nine games after a horrendous start to the season.
Jeremy Bonderman (2-2) pitched into the eighth inning after getting off to a rough start and Gary Sheffield had two hits for Detroit (13-15). The $139 million Tigers opened the season with seven straight losses.
With Alex Rodriguez sidelined by a strained right quadriceps, slumping New York managed just two hits after the first inning. The Yankees have scored just 15 runs in their last five games.
Twins 4, White Sox 3.
Justin Morneau came through with a two-out RBI double in the seventh inning for host Minnesota.
Morneau hit a high pitch from Boone Logan to deep left-center to drive in Carlos Gomez for the go-ahead run in the seventh.
Rangers 11, Royals 9
Josh Hamilton capped a torrid April with his first career grand slam and host Texas hit a season-high five home runs.
Rookie Brandon Boggs hit his first major league homer, and Milton Bradley, David Murphy and Gerald Laird also homered for the Rangers, who roughed up Brian Bannister (3-3).

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