Joe Nathan sweated out his latest save, making just enough big pitches and one sparkling defensive play to hold on against the Boston Red Sox.
``Tonight was probably seven appearances in one,'' the Minnesota Twins closer said after a 9-8 victory Sunday night.
Nathan took the mound with a 9-6 lead, but gave up an RBI double to J.D. Drew. With runners on second and third and one out, Coco Crisp lined a pitch off Nathan's glove, and the former shortstop had to chase it down as it rolled toward third base. He picked it up and threw to Mike Lamb to get Drew at third for the second out.
``Joe (Mauer) came out and said, 'Nice play, but this thing ain't done yet. We still got one more to go,''' Nathan said. ``Then I stared into the on-deck circle to find out who was coming up.''
Just who he wanted to see: Manny Ramirez, who spent the first eight innings on the bench resting a sore hamstring.
``I just told myself, 'Try and make some pitches,''' Nathan said. ``I definitely wanted to make sure I was still careful. I really wanted to be aggressive, but make good pitches.''
He ran a two-seam fastball in on Ramirez's hands, and the slugger grounded out to shortstop Adam Everett to end the game and fall to 0-for-7 with five strikeouts lifetime against Nathan.
``It goes to show that even three-run leads aren't a lock,'' Nathan said. ``You have to go out there, you have to work and get your three outs. This thing's not over until you do, especially against a club like this.''
In other AL games, it was: Tampa Bay 8, Los Angeles 5; Kansas City 4, Baltimore 0; Oakland 12, Texas 6; and Seattle 6, Chicago 3. Rain postponed New York's game at Detroit and Toronto's game at Cleveland.
In Minneapolis, Craig Monroe went 2-for-4 with two of light-hitting Minnesota's three home runs and four RBIs. Everett also homered for the Twins, who entered with a major league-low 17 homers and had yet to hit more than one in a game before Sunday's binge.
Tim Wakefield (3-2) gave up seven runs - six earned - on seven hits in just 2 2-3 innings, the earliest he's been knocked out of a start since June 20, 1997, at Detroit, when he lasted 2 1-3 innings.
``I felt great. I thought I had good stuff,'' Wakefield said. ``It's one of those nights you'd like to forget.''
Monroe had a three-run homer and Everett a two-run shot in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
Crisp hit his second homer in as many days to go with a triple and three RBIs, and Alex Cora had three hits in his first game back from the disabled list for Boston.
Nick Blackburn (3-2) struck out five in six shaky innings.
Rays 8, Angels 5
At St. Petersburg, Fla., Carl Crawford hit a three-run homer and Cliff Floyd added a pair of run-scoring singles, helping Tampa Bay stop Ervin Santana from becoming the AL's first seven-game winner.
Santana departed with a 5-4 lead with one runner on and two outs in the sixth, but the game quickly shifted when Justin Speier (0-3) entered and gave up a double to Akinori Iwamura and Crawford's third homer of the season.
J.P. Howell (2-0) pitched three scoreless innings in relief of Andy Sonnanstine to get the victory. Troy Percival worked the ninth for his ninth save.
Royals 4, Orioles 0
Brian Bannister (4-4) allowed two singles in eight innings and the Royals ended their 12-game skid against the visiting Orioles. It was Kansas City's first victory over Baltimore since July 25, 2006.
Bannister struck out five and walked two to end a personal four-game losing streak. Joakim Soria tossed a perfect ninth to finish Kansas City's fourth shutout of the year.
Brian Burres (3-4) allowed four runs and nine hits in six-plus innings for the visiting Orioles.
Athletics 12, Rangers 6
At Arlington, Texas, Emil Brown hit a three-run homer and drove in four runs to help the Athletics end the Rangers' season-best five-game winning streak.
Frank Thomas drove in two runs to give him 1,695 RBIs, tying him with Cal Ripken for 21st all-time.
Franklyn German (1-1) gave up two runs and three hits in 2-3 inning to suffer the loss. Santiago Casilla (2-0) allowed two hits in 1 1-3 innings for the victory.
Mariners 6, White Sox 3
At Seattle, Raul Ibanez hit a two-run homer in the third inning and the Mariners snapped a five-game losing streak.
Seattle got to Gavin Floyd (3-2), who carried a no-hitter into the ninth in his last start, for five runs and nine hits over 3 2-3 innings.
Miguel Batista (3-4) went 5 1-3 innings for Seattle, allowing three runs and 10 hits. J.J. Putz worked the ninth for his first save since April 22.

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