Still without shortstop Nomar Garciaparra and centre fielder Carl Everett, the Boston Red Sox completed their first four-game sweep in Baltimore in 23 years, beating the Orioles 10-1 to move into first place in the American League East on Sunday.
Boston won its fifth straight and pulled one-half game ahead of the Yankees as New York was swept in a three-game series by the Detroit Tigers, the A.L.'s worst team.
Boston's last four-game sweep in Baltimore was June 20-23, 1977, at Memorial Stadium.
"Being in first place is nice for our fans, but it is even better to get wins against teams in our division this time of year." Red Sox centre fielder Darren Lewis said.
Brian Rose (3-2) pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth - his last inning - to earn the win, allowing one run and five hits with three walks and one strikeout.
"The key part of the game was a young pitcher getting out of that jam." Boston manager Jimy Williams said. "Rose maintained his composure with the bases loaded in the fifth inning."
Lewis, Everett's replacement, gave Boston a 1-0 lead with a solo homer off Mike Mussina (1-5) in the top of the first. Donnie Sadler, who was called up when Garciaparra went on the disabled list, doubled in the fourth and scored on Jose Offerman's RBI single to make it 2-0.
Garciaparra was placed on the 15-day disabled list on Friday with a strained left hamstring. Everett, nursing a sore right quadriceps, was limited to one pinch-hitting appearance Saturday in the last three games of the series.
The Orioles lost their seventh straight and have dropped 11 of their last 12.
In Detroit, Dave Mlicki retired 15 straight Yankees and fell one out shy of his second career shutout against the two-time defending world champions as the Tigers completed a three-game series sweep with a 2-1 victory.
The Tigers, last in the American League Central, have won three straight for the first time this year while the Yankees have dropped a season-high four in a row.
"Who knows how far it can go?" Tigers manager Phil Garner said. "There is no reason to put a limit on it, but this is our first chance to gloat about three wins in a row."
"In a 162-game schedule there are a lot of peaks and valleys." said Yankees manager Joe Torre. "Give them credit. I don't think it's a problem on our part, as much as they were ready to play us and they did a good job."
Mlicki (1-5) allowed a single to Shane Spencer in the second and did not give up another hit until Spencer singled in the seventh.
In Cleveland, making his first start in almost a month, Mac Suzuki got eight strikeouts over 8 1/3 innings and Mike Sweeney went 4-for-5 with two run-scoring doubles as the Kansas City Royals posted a 5-4 triumph over the Indians.
Suzuki (1-0), who had pitched in relief in his last three outings, allowed four runs and seven hits in the longest outing of his career before tiring in the ninth. The Japanese pitcher posted his first win since October 1.
Kansas City salvaged the last game of a four-game set.
In Anaheim, Troy Glaus and Scott Spiezio belted back-to-back home runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to lead the Angels to an improbable 7-6 victory over the Texas Rangers.
Anaheim belted five homers on the game, including two from Mo Vaughn, and battled back from 4-0 and 5-2 deficits to win for just the third time in the last nine games.
At Tampa Bay, Albie Lopez blew another save, handing David Wells his sixth straight win as the Toronto Blue Jays rallied for two runs in the ninth inning and a 3-2 triumph over the Devil Rays.
Wells (7-1) tossed his third complete game of the year, yielding two runs and seven hits. He struck out five and walked none but appeared on the way to his first loss since April 14 due to outstanding pitching by Tampa Bay starter Esteban Yan and a mammoth home run by Jose Canseco.
Wells became the American League's first seven-game winner and tying Randy Johnson and Todd Stottlemyre of Arizona for the major league lead.
In Oakland, Jason Giambi belted his major league-leading 16th homer and Gil Heredia (5-2) won his fourth straight start as the Athletics beat the Seattle Mariners 7-2.
Miguel Tejada added a two-run homer for Oakland, which won three of four games from the Mariners while winning for the 11th time in its last 16 games overall.
In Chicago, Jose Valentin's RBI single snapped a seventh-inning tie as the White Sox took the rubber game of a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins, 5-3.
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