At this rate, the Boston Red Sox will gladly take a day off. That's about the only way they can prevent the New York Yankees from creeping any closer.
Good-luck charm Clay Buchholz and relief ace Jonathan Papelbon let another game slip away and the Toronto Blue Jays finished off sweeping Boston with a 6-1 win Wednesday night.
Coupled with the Yankees' 2-1 victory over Baltimore, the Red Sox saw their AL East lead cut to 1 1/2 games - Boston's slimmest edge since April 25.
The Red Sox, who have lost four in a row, and Yankees are idle Thursday. Boston then starts a series at Tampa Bay with Josh Beckett going for his major league-leading 20th victory while the Yankees host Roy Halladay and the Blue Jays.
``It'll be good for us,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said. ``Part of me wants to play tomorrow because you want to get back on track, but we'll take the day off and regroup, get some guys some much-needed rest and some other guys some medical attention.''
The Yankees woke up May 30 trailing Boston by 14 1/2 games.
``Four months ago, nobody gave us credit. And now we're close to winning the division,'' Yankees closer Mariano Rivera said.
Chances are, the Red Sox and Yankees will both make the playoffs. They can thank the Cleveland Indians for that.
The Indians opened a season-high 7 1/2-game lead in the AL Central by defeating Detroit 4-2. The defending AL champion Tigers were swept at Jacobs Field and fell 5 1/2 games behind the Yankees for the wild card.
``It was the kiss of death,'' Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. ``We had our chance. We met them head on and they kicked our butt. They did everything better this series. They managed better. They pitched better. They hit better.''
In other games, Los Angeles beat Tampa Bay 2-1, Seattle topped Oakland 9-5, Chicago defeated Kansas City 7-0 and Minnesota beat Texas 4-2.
Russ Adams hit a clinching grand slam off Papelbon in the eighth inning. Toronto swept a three-game series from the Red Sox for the first time since May 2005, sending them to their fifth loss in six games.
``We've got to fight through,'' Francona said. ``How good of a team you end up being is how you handle adversity. We'll handle it. It's not a lot of fun to lose, it can get frustrating, but how you handle that frustration goes a long way towards how you end up doing.''
Making his first start since pitching a no-hitter against Baltimore on Sept. 1, Buchholz held Toronto hitless until Frank Thomas singled with two outs in the fourth inning.
Buchholz (3-1) made a throwing error in the fifth that put Toronto ahead, and wound up with his first major league loss. Jesse Litsch (6-9) won for the first time in five starts.
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz went 0-for-3, leaving him in a 1-for-14 slump with seven strikeouts. He may not play Friday because of a sore knee.
Yankees 2, Red Sox 1
At Yankee Stadium, Andy Pettitte earned his 200th win and Rivera got out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth inning to complete New York's three-game sweep.
Pettitte (14-8) became the 27th lefty in major league history to reach 200 wins. He's 10-2 since the All-Star break.
Rivera struck out pinch-hitter Scott Moore for his 30th save. Rivera has saved 49 of Pettitte's victories, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Brian Burres (6-6) took the loss as Baltimore fell for the 22nd time in 28 games.
Indians 4, Tigers 2
At Cleveland, C.C. Sabathia set a career high for victories and Cleveland trimmed its magic number for clinching the Central to three.
Sabathia (18-7) helped the Indians win for the 20th time in 25 games. Joe Borowski closed for his AL-leading 42nd save.
Detroit led in every game of the series. Nate Robertson (8-12) couldn't hold the edge as the Tigers tripped to 6-12 against the Indians this season.
Angels 2, Devil Rays 1
At Anaheim, Calif., Ervin Santana struck out 10 and Los Angeles cut its magic number for winning the West to three.
Santana (7-13) started in place of Bartolo Colon, who had a stiff back after pitching 4 2-3 innings Friday against Chicago.
J.P. Howell (1-5) lost his fifth straight decision.
Mariners 9, Athletics 5
Felix Hernandez won his third straight decision and Seattle finished off a three-game sweep.
Hernandez (13-7) led the Mariners to their sixth straight win at Oakland. Seattle went 14-5 against the A's; last year, Oakland won the season series 17-2.
Dan Meyer (0-2) lost in his third career start.
White Sox 7, Royals 0
Jim Thome hit two home runs, Jose Contreras pitched his third career shutout and Chicago won at Kansas City.
Thome has 30 homers this season and 502 lifetime. Contreras (10-16) threw a five-hitter.
Brian Bannister (12-9) gave up three home runs in five innings.
Twins 4, Rangers 2
Matt Garza found a way to win at the Metrodome and the Twins completed a three-game sweep.
After giving up a leadoff home run to Frank Catalanotto, Garza (4-6) got the victory that made him 1-10 lifetime at Minnesota. Joe Nathan closed for his 34th save in 38 opportunities.
Vicente Padilla (6-10) took the loss.

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