All of a sudden the AL East is getting interesting with the New York Yankees surging and the Boston Red Sox slumping.
Just two weeks ago, Boston was cruising with a 12-game lead in the division. But after the Kansas City Royals beat the Red Sox 6-5 on Wednesday, and the Yankees beat the Toronto Blue Jays 6-1, the lead is down to seven - the closest it's been since after games of May 12.
``Are the Yankees back in it?'' Boston's Coco Crisp said. ``They were never out of it.''
The Red Sox have led the AL East for 95 straight days and still have the biggest lead in any of the six divisions. But the Yankees have won eight of their last 10 games, while the Red Sox are 3-7 in that stretch.
``You know what?'' Boston shortstop Julio Lugo asked. ``They still have to catch us. We don't have to catch anybody.''
But the margin for error grew slimmer after Boston dropped two of three to the cellar-dwelling Royals. The Yankees have won 17 of their last 22 home games, and five straight overall.
``There's definitely a positive outlook for us,'' said Alex Rodriguez, whose go-ahead double in the seventh inning helped the Yankees sweep the Blue Jays.
In other AL games, it was Detroit 3, Minnesota 2; Oakland 6, Texas 0; Tampa Bay 7, the Los Angeles Angels 2; the Chicago White Sox 5, Cleveland 1; and Seattle 6, Baltimore 5.
Roger Clemens pitched out of trouble for six gritty innings, before Derek Jeter and Bobby Abreu started a seventh-inning rally and Rodriguez followed with his double. Mike Myers (1-0) retired Lyle Overbay on a grounder with the bases loaded to end the seventh and earn the win.
New York shook loose after being stifled for six innings by Shaun Marcum (5-4), who went pitch-for-pitch with Clemens and had a chance to come out on top. But the Blue Jays stranded 13 on base - eight against the 44-year-old Clemens.
``I continue to try to show Joe (Torre) that I can get out of my messes,'' Clemens said. ``It was a day when my body didn't help me that much. I didn't have as much energy as I normally do.
``I'm not young,'' he added. ``The training that I'm doing now is for October, and I think these guys know that.''
The Red Sox had the AL's top mark after beating the Royals 4-0 on Monday night. But Kansas City came back to pound Boston 9-3 on Tuesday before battering Julian Tavarez in a 6-5 victory on Wednesday.
The Royals scored twice in the fourth, then went ahead 6-4 in the fifth when they chased Tavarez (5-8) after his third straight poor performance.
Odalis Perez (5-8) went five innings, allowing all five Boston runs, to win for the first time in his last five starts. Octavio Dotel pitched the ninth for his 10th save in 13 chances.
``You come into Fenway Park, which is one of the special places to play, against a team that has the best record in the American League,'' Royals manager Buddy Bell said. ``You should feel pretty good.''
Tigers 3, Twins 2
At Minneapolis, Magglio Ordonez homered and drove in all three runs against Johan Santana (11-7), who went eight innings but saw his five-start winning streak come to an end.
Andrew Miller (5-3) threw five innings for the victory, and Todd Jones worked the ninth for his 25th save in 29 attempts. The Tigers now lead the AL Central by eight games.
Athletics 6, Rangers 0
At Oakland, Calif., Lenny DiNardo (4-6) pitched seven shutout innings in his first start since taking Rich Harden's spot in the rotation as Oakland ended a nine-game losing streak.
Oakland won despite getting just six hits off Texas starter Kevin Millwood and reliever Willie Eyre. Three of the hits came off Millwood (6-8) during a four-run second inning.
Devil Rays 7, Angels 2
At St. Petersburg, Fla., Ty Wigginton homered and Carlos Pena hit a three-run double to back Scott Kazmir (7-6), who won for the second straight time at home after going more than a year without a victory at Tropicana Field.
Wigginton's streak of eight consecutive hits ended in the second against Bartolo Colon (6-5), but he homered off Dustin Moseley to begin a four-run sixth that broke the game open.
White Sox 5, Indians 1
At Cleveland, Mark Buehrle (7-5) beat Cleveland for the first time since July 16, 2005, a span of eight starts against the Indians.
Paul Konerko's two-run homer in the fourth off Jake Westbrook (1-5) gave the White Sox a 3-0 lead. Rob Mackowiak followed with a double and scored on Jermaine Dye's double for a 4-0 lead.
Mariners 6, Orioles 5
At Seattle, Adrian Beltre's bases loaded walk with two outs in the eighth inning scored Jose Vidro, who had been intentially walked by reliever Danys Baez (0-5), with the eventual game-winner.
Sean Green (3-1) recorded four outs to get the victory, and J.J. Putz pitched a perfect ninth for his 28th save and his 30th consecutive dating to last season.

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