Rays knock Yanks into AL East cellar
By: By The Associated Press
The AL East is upside down.
Scott Kazmir and the first-place Tampa Bay Rays knocked New York into the division cellar Thursday, beating the visiting Yankees 5-2 for their seventh victory in eight games.
Akinori Iwamura and Shawn Riggans homered off Ian Kennedy to help the surprising Rays take three of four in the series.
Kazmir sparkled in his first start since agreeing to a $28.5 million contract extension, allowing three singles in six scoreless innings.
Tampa Bay, which started play in 1998 and has never won more than 70 games, has spent three straight days alone atop the AL East standings for the first time. The Rays have captured six of seven series while boosting the league’s best record to 24-17.
“I think the guys are handling this very well. It’s the confidence that’s been gained. It’s the momentum that you create,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “It’s a feeling that did not exist before. So first of all, you have to nurture it and grow it, and then once you got it, you have to do everything you can to hold on to it because it can go away.”
While the Rays are beating everybody, Kansas City keeps feasting on the Tigers in particular.
Kansas City won its season-best fourth straight and improved to 6-0 this season against the skidding Tigers, who have lost four in a row and 10 of 12 while falling into last place in the AL Central.
The Royals began the year with three wins at Detroit, which opened 0-7 despite a $139 million payroll.
Now, the Tigers (16-25) are struggling again.
In other AL games, it was: Cleveland 4, Oakland 2; Toronto 3, Minnesota 2 in 11 innings; and Chicago 4, Los Angeles 3.
Indians 4, Athletics 2
At Cleveland, an unearned run charged to Aaron Laffey — caused by his own throwing error — ended the scoreless streak by Indians starters at 441/3 innings but didn’t interrupt their string of dominant outings.
Laffey (2-2) allowed just the unearned run and five hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking one while filling in for injured starter Jake Westbrook. Laffey lowered his ERA to 1.35 and has gone seven innings in each of his last three starts without giving up an earned run.
The scoreless streak, which began last Friday, ended in the second when Laffey charged Rob Bowen’s grounder and threw it into right field, allowing Bobby Crosby to score.
Jhonny Peralta homered and scored three times for Cleveland.
Blue Jays 3, Twins 2
At Minneapolis, pinch-hitter Joe Inglett singled home the go-ahead run with two outs in the 11th to help Toronto complete a three-game sweep. B.J. Ryan earned his seventh save.
White Sox 4, Angels 3
At Anaheim, Calif., Jim Thome hit a go-ahead RBI single in the ninth inning to spoil Jon Garland’s first start against his former team.
Pierzynski led off the ninth with his third hit, a double against Angels closer Francisco Rodriguez (0-1). He tagged up and advanced to third on Carlos Quentin’s flyout to the warning track in center and scored on Thome’s hit.
Octavio Dotel (2-2) pitched 11/3 hitless innings for the win and Bobby Jenks, a former Angels prospect, got three outs for his eighth save in 10 attempts.