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Yankees, Johnson make a big move upward

Randy Johnson was his old self, glaring and pointing. The Big Unit not only made it into the late innings, he pitched the New York Yankees to another key win.

Johnson limited the Baltimore Orioles to three hits over eight innings in his first start since a second-inning ejection last week, and Matt Lawton broke out of a long slump with a two-run homer that carried the Yankees to a 2-1 victory last night at New York.

New York, which won for the ninth time in 10 games, pulled a half-game ahead of the Red Sox and into first place in the East Division.

A roar went up in the crowd when the scoreboard showed that Tampa Bay took an eighth-inning lead against the Red Sox.

''First place only counts on that last Sunday," manager Joe Torre said.

On Friday night in Toronto, Johnson was ejected in the second inning for complaining about the calls of plate umpire Fieldin Culbreth. He didn't get into it with last night's plate umpire, Larry Vanover, but did motion at first base umpire Randy Marsh when he didn't get a check-swing call.

Johnson (15-8) didn't allow a hit until the fifth inning and didn't give up a run until the sixth, when Melvin Mora hit a long RBI double. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez helped the Big Unit out twice in the sixth, backhanding Bernie Castro's grounder over the bag to hold him to a single, then sprawling on his knees to grab Javy Lopez's two-out grounder to his glove side and throwing to first to end the inning with Mora on third.

Johnson struck out six and walked one, improving to 4-0 in his last six starts. He also got help from first baseman Jason Giambi, who stretched prone in the fifth to glove a throw from shortstop Derek Jeter and complete an inning-ending double play on Luis Matos's grounder.

Eric Byrnes had reached on a one-out throwing error by Jeter -- fans applauded when it was ruled an error that kept Baltimore hitless -- and Chris Gomez singled cleanly to right before the double play. Giambi had a tight lower back and was replaced in the sixth by Tino Martinez.

After Johnson struck out Castro with a 96 mile-per-hour fastball on his 119th and final pitch, Mariano Rivera came in and pitched the ninth for his 41st save.

Indians 8, White Sox 0 -- Scott Elarton pitched five-hit ball into the eighth inning and Travis Hafner homered twice, leading Cleveland to a rout of host Chicago.

The Indians, who trailed the White Sox by 15 games Aug. 1, won for the 14th time in 16 tries and moved to within 2 1/2 games of the Central Division leader. Cleveland also leads the wild-card race by one game over the Red Sox.

Hafner, who has homered in four straight games, hit a long three-run shot to center off Jon Garland (17-10) in the eighth. He added a two-run shot off Jeff Bajenaru in the ninth, giving him a career-high 30 for the season and 100 RBIs.

Casey Blake and Grady Sizemore also connected for Cleveland, which had 12 hits.

In winning his fourth straight start, Elarton (11-7) allowed a third-inning single by Tadahito Iguchi, then not another hit until Aaron Rowand singled to lead off the bottom of the eighth. After giving up another single to Crede, he was replaced by Bob Howry.

Angels 6, Rangers 5 -- In Anaheim, Calif., pinch hitter Jose Molina drove in the tying and go-ahead runs with a single in a four-run seventh inning and Los Angeles rallied to beat Texas.

The Angels increased their lead in the West Division to 2 1/2 games over the Athletics, who lost, 10-4, to Minnesota.

Esteban Yan (1-1) got the victory, retiring Alfonso Soriano -- the only batter he faced -- on a flyout in the seventh.

Twins 10, Athletics 4 -- Michael Cuddyer homered, hit three doubles, and drove in four runs, and Minnesota drubbed host Oakland.

Cuddyer finished with a career-high four hits. After his solo homer in the second inning, he followed with three doubles for his third career four-RBI game.

Matthew LeCroy added three hits and two RBIs for Minnesota, which had lost five of six. The Twins tagged Joe Kennedy in taking a 7-0 lead in the fifth, and avoided a three-game sweep.

Mariners 3, Blue Jays 2 -- Rookie phenom Felix Hernandez took a no-hit bid into the seventh inning before giving up a single, and Seattle edged host Toronto.

Royals 4, Tigers 3 -- Pinch hitter Denny Hocking's two-out, two-run single in the ninth gave host Kansas City its first four-game sweep in more than six years and handed Detroit its seventh straight defeat.

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