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White Sox gain breathing room in AL Central

White Sox starting pitcher Mark Buehrle delivers a pitch during his four-hit victory over Minnesota.
White Sox starting pitcher Mark Buehrle delivers a pitch during his four-hit victory over Minnesota.
Nam Y Huh, Associated Press

CHICAGO — Mark Buehrle pitched a four-hitter and Paul Konerko homered to help the Chicago White Sox beat the Minnesota Twins 4-1 Sunday, pushing their AL Central lead back to 2 1/2 games over Cleveland.

Ahead by 15 games on Aug. 1, the White Sox have a bit of breathing room again with a week left in the season after winning their third straight. The Indians lost in Kansas City.

Before a spirited crowd of 30,402 in their final regular-season home game — both the crosstown Cubs and Bears were home on the same day — the White Sox waited out a 69-minute rain delay to get their 94th victory.

Buehrle (16-8) is only 6-5 since the all-star break, but he retired his first nine batters. The left-hander struck out six and walked none.

The White Sox have seven games to play — four in Detroit and then a three-game showdown at Jacobs Field. Chicago had lost 10 of 14 before starting this modest winning streak and is 25-26 since Aug. 1.

Konerko gave the White Sox a 4-0 lead with a two-run shot off Francisco Liriano (0-2) in the third inning, his 38th homer and first since Sept 9. It followed an RBI triple by Aaron Rowand.

ROYALS 5, INDIANS 4: At Kansas City, Mo., Cleveland center fielder Grady Sizemore lost Paul Phillips' ninth-inning double in the sun, allowing Angel Berroa to score the winning run for Kansas City. The heavy-hitting Indians lost for only the third time in 20 games, trimming their AL wild-card lead to a half-game over the Red Sox and Yankees, who are tied atop the AL East. Victor Martinez hit a three-run homer for Cleveland.

Emil Brown had a two-run shot for the Royals, who had dropped 10 straight to Cleveland and have the worst record in the major leagues. But they snapped the Indians' four-game winning streak and avoided a four-game sweep, slowing Cleveland's playoff push — at least for a day.

The Indians tied the score at 4 in the ninth on Casey Blake's RBI grounder, but Bob Howry (7-4) gave up a leadoff single to Berroa in the bottom half. He moved up on Joe McEwing's sacrifice and scored when Phillips' deep fly bounced off Sizemore's leg.

Mike MacDougal (5-6) blew a save but got the win.

RED SOX 9, ORIOLES 3: At Baltimore, Manny Ramirez hit his 41st homer in a five-run first inning and Johnny Damon connected in a four-run fifth, leading Boston past Baltimore for a three-game sweep. A majority of the 46,559 fans in attendance were cheering for the Red Sox. There was no Green Monster in left field, but for a third straight day the seating bowl was filled with fans in red and the Orioles' home stadium sounded very much like Fenway Park. The victory enabled the defending World Series champions to remain tied atop the division with New York, which beat Toronto. New York opens a four-game series in Baltimore on Monday, and Boston plays four home games against Toronto before closing with three against the Yankees at Fenway. It was the fifth homer in five games for Ramirez, who moved into a tie with former Oriole Cal Ripken for 34th place on the career list (431). David Wells (14-7) allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings before leaving with a minor knee injury. Melvin Mora and Miguel Tejada homered for the Orioles, whose eight-game losing streak matches a season high. Tejada was guilty of two mental blunders and a fielding error that fueled Boston's two big innings. The Red Sox got all the offense they needed in the first against rookie John Maine (2-3).

YANKEES 8, BLUE JAYS 4: At New York, Robinson Cano hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the seventh inning, Gary Sheffield added a three-run shot in the eighth and New York defeated Toronto in its final scheduled home game of the regular season. Chien-Ming Wang (8-4) allowed three runs in seven innings to kelp the Yankees win for the 12th time in 14 games. A fan favorite since he came up to the Yankees in 1991, Bernie Williams repeatedly was given standing ovations on the overcast afternoon, perhaps his final game with New York in Yankee Stadium. The 37-year-old center fielder, whose production has declined the past three years, can become a free agent after the season, and there has been no indication whether the team wants him back. Williams went 1-for-4 with an infield single, with fans standing and applauding through each of his at-bats.

New York trailed 3-2 against Josh Towers (12-12) before Jorge Posada singled on the first pitch of the seventh. Cano connected two pitches later, and Mariano Rivera got four outs for his 42nd save in 46 chances.

DEVILS RAYS 8, ANGELS 4: At Anaheim, Calif., Jorge Cantu and Aubrey Huff homered on consecutive pitches from Bartolo Colon, and Tampa Bay ended Los Angeles' eight-game winning streak. Mark Hendrickson (11-7) won his seventh straight decision, denying the AL West-leading Angels a chance to reduce their magic number of five for clinching the division title. Los Angeles began the day with a four-game lead over Oakland, which played later against Texas. The Angels and Athletics begin a four-game series in Oakland on Monday night. After Cantu hit a two-run shot with two outs in the third inning, Huff sent a high drive to right for a 4-1 lead. Jonny Gomes added a solo shot off Colon (20-8) in the fifth.

TIGERS 8, MARINERS 1: At Detroit, Mike Maroth pitched seven strong innings, and Curtis Granderson scored twice and drove in two runs to lead Detroit over Seattle. Carlos Pena's two-run homer in the eighth off Jeff Harris traveled 461 feet, the longest in Comerica Park's six-year history. The ball landed on a concourse atop a 10-foot brick wall above the right-field scoreboard. The Tigers improved to 6-19 in September, while the Mariners finished 3-8 on their longest road trip of the season. Maroth (14-13) gave up one run and four hits. Seattle reliever Shigetoshi Hasegawa (1-3) allowed five runs in three innings after starter Gil Meche lasted only two innings.

RANGERS 6, ATHLETICS 2: At Oakland, Calif., Rod Barajas hit a three-run homer and Michael Young extended his career-best hitting streak to 22 games with an RBI double. Juan Dominguez pitched 7 1/3 strong innings for Texas, which took two of three from the A's after being swept in Anaheim following a five-game winning streak. Dan Johnson hit a two-run homer in the second for Oakland, which failed to gain ground on AL West-leading Los Angeles. The A's remained four games behind the Angels, who lost 8-4 at home to Tampa Bay. The Angels come to the Coliseum for a crucial four-game series starting Monday, and Los Angeles manager Mike Scioscia is already leaning toward using ace Bartolo Colon on three days' rest for Thursday's series finale against Barry Zito.