For at least one at-bat, Richie Sexson stopped Seattle fans from booing him.
The slugger, hitting under .200 for much of the year, hit Matt Guerrier's second pitch of the ninth inning over the left-center field fence to lift the Mariners to a dramatic, 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins on Monday night.
The fans cheered Sexson as he rounded the bases, and his teammates mobbed him at home plate as the Mariners won for the sixth time in seven games, to stay one percentage point ahead of the New York Yankees in the wild card standings. Seattle inched to within three games of the idle Los Angeles Angels atop the AL West.
Sexson was glad to hear the cheers, but hasn't enjoyed how the fans have reacted to him this year because of his struggles. Even after a two-run double to start his return home, he still heard boos.
``With three or four years of not winning here, it's kind of strange that we're winning and they're booing,'' Sexson said. ``Guess that's not how Seattle rolls.''
Don't get him wrong, he understands he's been in a season-long funk.
``Nothing against them. I dug my own grave with the fans,'' said the Seattle slugger.
In other AL games, it was Boston 3, Tampa Bay 0; New York 7, Baltimore 6; Oakland 7, Detroit 2; and Kansas City 6, Toronto 2.
Johan Santana allowed three runs and seven hits in seven innings but Minnesota still lost its fifth consecutive game. It was the 10th time this season the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner has gotten a no-decision despite allowing three earned runs or less.
The Twins are two games under .500 for the first time since June 9.
``We're trying too hard,'' manager Ron Gardenhire said. ``Kind of the same old story.''
Minnesota produced three runs or less for the 11th time in 12 games.
Felix Hernandez, pitching against the Twins for the first time since he strained a forearm against them April 18 and then spent almost a month on the disabled list, was poised for his third consecutive win after allowing four hits and one run on 110 pitches in six innings. But John Parrish, acquired last week from Baltimore, walked Jason Tyner and allowed a single by Nick Punto to begin the seventh.
After a sacrifice bunt, Jason Bartlett hit an RBI groundout to make it 3-2 against Sean Green, and Joe Mauer followed with a fly ball near the left-field line. Heralded prospect Adam Jones ran far from left-center but had the ball carom off his glove for a double. Nick Punto scored to tie the game on Mauer's third hit while Jones banged his right knee into the stands and then fell in among the fans.
Sexson's fifth career game-ending homer left his batting average at .210. That's 14 points higher than it was when manager John McLaren benched him for the final two games of the previous homestand, when the Mariners were brutal with Sexson.
``I'm sure tomorrow if I make an out, they'll boo me again,'' Sexson said. ``Nothing surprises me this year. I haven't heard cheers here for a long time.''
Sexson's teammates are just as eager to see Sexson emerge from his struggles.
``We were more happy for him than he was,'' said Jose Vidro, who had three hits and an RBI. ``If he gets hot now, it could be huge for us.''
Athletics 7, Tigers 2
At Detroit, Mark Ellis homered, Marco Scutaro drove in three runs and Chad Gaudin (9-8) struck out a career-high nine for Oakland.
The Tigers won the two previous games and had a chance to win a series for the first time since sweeping Minnesota from July 17-19. Since then, they are 8-17.
Chad Durbin (7-5) gave up six runs, six hits and four walks in 4 1-3 innings.
Shannon Stewart went 4-for-5 for Oakland and Jack Cust had three hits.
Red Sox 2, Devil Rays 0
At Boston, Tim Wakefield (14-10) held Tampa Bay hitless into the seventh inning, and Julio Lugo had three hits for the slumping Red Sox.
Wakefield allowed two hits in eight innings, striking out six and walking two to improve to 18-2 lifetime against the Devil Rays. Jonathan Papelbon pitched the ninth for his 28th save.
James Shields (9-8) allowed one run and five hits in six innings, striking out five for the Devil Rays.
Yankees 7, Orioles 6
At New York, Melky Cabrera raced home on Derek Jeter's grounder in the ninth inning to lift the Yankees.
Baltimore tied it in the top of the ninth against Mariano Rivera (3-3) but couldn't stop streaking New York, which has won four straight and nine of 10.
Chad Bradford (1-5) hit Cabrera with a pitch with one out and pinch-hitter Jason Giambi then singled to right, advancing the speedy center fielder to third. Jeter followed with an infield tapper that Bradford couldn't bring in. Second baseman Brian Roberts rushed in to pick up the ball but Cabrera was already crossing home.
Bobby Abreu and Wilson Betemit homered for New York, which stayed within four of AL East-leading Boston.
Royals 6, Blue Jays 2
At Kansas City, Mo. - Mark Teahen homered for the first time in more than two months and Kansas City took advantage of three Toronto errors.
Teahen, who led the Royals with 18 home runs in 2006, hit his sixth home run in the first inning, ending a drought of 250 at-bats without a homer.
Odalis Perez (7-11) worked out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth by striking out Frank Thomas to end the inning.
Jesse Litsch (4-5) allowed five runs - two earned - in 6 2-3 innings.
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