If Cleveland plans to build a cushion on the Tigers in the AL Central, a nine-game road trip through lowly Tampa Bay and Kansas City - with a three-game set in Detroit thrown in - will give the Indians plenty of opportunities.
Cleveland got a strong performance Friday night from Paul Byrd, who scattered eight hits and continually worked out of jams in a 2-1 victory over the Devil Rays that pushed the Indians ahead of Detroit by a half-game in the division.
The Tigers, meanwhile, lost 6-1 to the New York Yankees in the second of what will be seven games against the Bronx Bombers in an 11-day stretch.
``As a pitcher, you want to pick your team up,'' said Byrd, who struck out five in six innings. ``I think that's what being a good team is all about. People made good adjustments and they pick each other up and they find a way to win the game when it's close.''
In other AL games, the Los Angeles Angels beat Boston 7-5 after losing the opener of a doubleheader 8-4. It was Toronto 5, Baltimore 2; Seattle 5, the Chicago White Sox 4; Kansas City 9, Oakland 2; and Minnesota 2, Texas 1 in 10 innings.
Ryan Garko put the Indians ahead 1-0 with an RBI single in the first, and Asdrubal Cabrera drove in Franklin Gutierrez with a second-inning sacrifice fly.
Both runs went against Edwin Jackson (3-12), who gave up seven hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked five for Tampa Bay, which is 13-35 since June 25.
Tampa Bay scored in the fifth on Carl Crawford's run-scoring single, but Byrd (11-5) got B.J. Upton to line into a double play to get out of the inning.
``Somebody asked me today if I was pitching well,'' Byrd said. ``I didn't know what to tell them. I didn't know if I was pitching well because when they hit the ball hard it went right to somebody. Sometimes this game doesn't make a lot of sense and you have to give some credit to the guys behind you, and I feel like that's what happened tonight.''
At New York, Andy Pettitte pitched eight strong innings to win his fourth straight start, and Jason Giambi homered twice to lead the Yankees past the Tigers.
Andy Phillips hit a two-run double and Alex Rodriguez added an RBI double for New York, which had lost three straight after winning nine of 10. Joe Torre earned his 2,041st victory as a manager, passing Walter Alston for sole possession of eighth place.
``Andy really stepped up for us tonight,'' Giambi said. ``He's been the guy to go to.''
Nate Robertson (7-10) allowed 10 hits over six innings and dropped to 1-5 against the Yankees. He hasn't beaten them since July 18, 2004.
Not that the Tigers' offense provided much help against Pettitte (10-7), who is 4-0 with a 2.25 ERA this month and 43-16 in August during his career.
``We needed a big performance and he came out and gave it to us,'' Phillips said of Pettitte, who allowed one run and five hits while striking out five.
``We didn't do much,'' Detroit manager Jim Leyland said. ``Our entire lineup.''
Angels 7, Red Sox 5
Red Sox 8, Angels 4
At Boston, Orlando Cabrera singled to tie the game and scored on Vladimir Guerrero's two-run double off Eric Gagne (3-1) as the Angels rallied to beat Boston and split a doubleheader.
Francisco Rodriguez (5-2) blew the save but got the win.
Clay Buchholz (1-0) gave the Red Sox six strong innings in his major league debut to pace an afternoon victory. John Lackey (15-7) failed to win his 16th game.
Blue Jays 5, Orioles 2
At Toronto, A.J. Burnett (7-6) won his second straight start, Frank Thomas hit his 506th career home run and Toronto extended its home winning streak against Baltimore to five games.
Garret Olson (1-2) allowed five runs and six hits in 3 1-3 innings in his fourth major league start. He walked four and struck out one.
Mariners 5, White Sox 4
At Seattle, Miguel Batista (13-8) took a shutout into the seventh inning and Raul Ibanez continued his sudden surge with his seventh home run in 10 games.
Jose Contreras (6-15) pitched seven innings and allowed five runs in losing his eighth consecutive start. He gave up nine hits and struck out five.
Royals 9, Athletics 2
At Oakland, Calif., Emil Brown hit his first home run in over a month and Brian Bannister (9-7) pitched a four-hitter for his first career complete game for Kansas City.
Dan Meyer (0-1) lost in his first major league start and his first major league appearance in three years. He lasted four innings, allowing six runs - three earned - and five hits.
Twins 2, Rangers 1, 10 innings
At Minneapolis, Nick Punto scored on a wild pitch from Jamey Wright (3-5) with nobody out in the 10th inning to lift Minnesota.
Matt Guerrier (2-4) got the win after pitching one inning and allowing two hits.

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