ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -Josh Beckett became the first 20-game winner in the majors and Boston used late home runs by Jason Varitek, David Ortiz and Mike Lowell for an 8-1 victory over Tampa Bay on Friday night.
The victory snapped Boston's four-game losing streak and reduced the AL East-leading Red Sox's magic number to clinch at least a wild-card playoff berth to two.
Boston's losing streak matched its longest of the season and allowed New York to pull within 1 1/2 games of the division, but the win coupled with the Yankees' 5-4 loss in 14 innings to Toronto stretched the lead to 2 1/2 games.
Beckett (20-6) allowed one run and four hits over six innings, winning for the seventh time in his last eight decisions. Relievers Manny Delcarmen, Javier Lopez and Eric Gagne pitched three perfect innings to finish.
Ortiz had an RBI single off Scott Kazmir (13-9) in the third and added a three-run homer, his 32nd, off Jeff Ridgway in the ninth. Varitek hit a solo homer off Gary Glover in the eighth and Lowell hit a solo shot off Grant Balfour in the ninth.
Beckett improved to 11-2 on the road and is the Red Sox's first 20-game winner since Curt Schilling won 21 in 2004.
Kazmir allowed three runs and four hits in five innings.
Blue Jays 5, Yankees 4, 14 innings
NEW YORK (AP) - Gregg Zaun homered in the 14th inning to give Toronto the win after the Blue Jays blew a four-run lead in the ninth.
Alex Rios hit a two-run homer for the Blue Jays, who won their fourth straight and dropped the Yankees 2 1/2 games behind first-place Boston in the AL East. New York's wild-card lead was trimmed to 4 1/2 games over Detroit.
The Yankees took advantage of a key error by second baseman Aaron Hill to tie it in the ninth, but the Blue Jays, coming off a three-game sweep of Boston, regrouped and the Yankees, who had won four in a row, lost for only the third time in 15 games.
Zaun homered off Brian Bruney (3-2), his 10th of this season.
Joe Kennedy (4-9) escaped a 13th-inning jam and got two outs in the 14th. Jason Frasor struck out pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit for his third save.
Alex Rodriguez drove in the first run of the ninth with a single, his career-high 143rd RBI. The second run scored on Hill's throwing error. Robinson Cano's single made it 4-3 and Jason Giambi tied it with an RBI single.
Indians 4, Athletics 3
CLEVELAND (AP) - Fausto Carmona won his 18th game and Ryan Garko and Jhonny Peralta hit back-to-back homers as Cleveland lowered its magic number for clinching its first AL Central title since 2001 to two.
The Indians remained 7 1/2 games ahead of Detroit in the division.
Cleveland has won four straight, is 6-1 on its final homestand and 21-5 since Aug. 25.
Carmona (18-8) has won his last four starts, allowing four earned runs during the streak. He gave up a run and five hits in six innings, striking out seven.
Garko hit his 20th home run to lead off the sixth and Peralta hit the next pitch for his 21st. Asdrubal Cabrera's sacrifice fly later that inning made it 4-1.
Joe Borowski pitched the ninth for his league-leading 43rd save.
Joe Blanton (14-10) matched Carmona until the sixth when he gave up four straight hits to start the inning. He went 5 2-3 innings, allowing four runs and 10 hits.
Jack Cust hit his 25th home run, a two-run shot off Rafael Perez, to pull Oakland, which has lost five straight, within one in the seventh.
Tigers 5, Royals 4
DETROIT (AP) - Brandon Inge hit a go-ahead, two-run single in the sixth inning for Detroit, which kept alive its slim chances of making it back to the playoffs.
Detroit moved within 4 1/2 games of New York in the wild-card race. The Tigers remained 7 1/2 games behind Cleveland in the AL Central.
The defending AL champions were behind 4-0 after four innings, but rallied on Sean Casey's three-run homer in the fifth and Inge's clutch hit in the sixth.
Tim Byrdak (2-0) did not give up a hit over four innings. Todd Jones pitched the ninth for his 38th save. He gave up the only hit the bullpen allowed in 6 2-3 innings.
Jason Smith hit a two-run homer for the Royals.
Reliever Leo Nunez (2-4) gave up two unearned runs, and got only one out.
Rangers 3, Orioles 2
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) - Luis Mendoza scattered four hits over five innings for his first major league win and Texas survived a shaky ninth to snap a four-game losing streak.
Mendoza (1-0) gave up one run, struck out two and walked one in his second big-league start since being called up from Double-A on Sept. 5. Mike Wood and C.J. Wilson pitched three innings of scoreless relief for Texas before turning it over to a shaky Joaquin Benoit, who earned his sixth save in 12 chances.
Miguel Tejada homered for the Orioles, who have lost four of five.
Tejada walked to lead off the ninth, and after a single by Kevin Millar and a walk to Melvin Mora, Scott Moore hit a sacrifice fly that made it 3-2. Benoit struck out Paul Bako and catcher Gerald Laird threw out Mora trying to steal second to end it.
Victor Santos (0-2) gave up three runs and five hits over five innings.
White Sox 6, Twins 4
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - Josh Fields hit two homers and Jim Thome added the 503rd of his career to lead Chicago.
Johan Santana (15-13) struck out 11, but gave up six runs and eight hits in seven innings to lose for the fourth time in five starts. The three homers pushed his total for the season to 33, most in the American League.
Mark Buehrle (10-9) went six innings for his first victory in eight starts.
Fields homered in the first. After the Twins scored three runs in the third, Jermaine Dye had an RBI double in the fourth and Thome added a three-run shot in the fifth to give the White Sox a 5-3 lead.
Fields got his second career multihomer game when he went deep in the seventh. His 22 homers are tops among AL rookies.
Buehrle, who was 0-3 with a 5.27 ERA in his previous seven starts, gave up four runs and nine hits for his first victory since Aug. 3 at Detroit. Bobby Jenks worked a perfect ninth for his 39th save.

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