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Start spreading the boos: Yankees absorb worst loss

NEW YORK -- With an epic defeat, the New York Yankees' hold on first place in the American League East became increasingly tenuous.

Omar Vizquel got six hits -- tying the American League record for a nine-inning game -- and the Cleveland Indians routed New York, 22-0, last night at Yankee Stadium, the most one-sided loss in the 101-year history of the Yankees.

Cleveland matched the largest shutout win in the major leagues since 1900, done by Pittsburgh against the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 16, 1975.

"It's obviously embarrassing," said Yankees catcher Jorge Posada, echoing several teammates.

Yankees owner George Steinbrenner watched his team fall in record fashion, then declined to answer questions as he left the ballpark.

The Yankees, booed early and often by the crowd of 51,777, have lost five straight home games for the first time since May 2003.

Cleveland's run total seemed to spin by on the scoreboard as fast as the symbols on a slot machine. New York's AL East lead, which stood at 10 1/2 games on the morning of Aug. 16, was cut to 3 1/2 games by the Red Sox, who beat Anaheim, 10-7.

"Sure, we're aware of where they are and what they're doing, but you can't lose perspective," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "It really wasn't much fun watching anything, our scoreboard or theirs."

Yankees starter Javier Vazquez (13-8) was knocked out in the second inning, Cleveland took a 15-0 lead in the fifth, and Jody Gerut and Victor Martinez hit three-run homers off Esteban Loaiza in the ninth.

New York had never lost by more than 18 runs (24-6 at Cleveland on July 29, 1928, and 19-1 at home against Detroit on June 17, 1925). Their largest shutout loss had been 15-0, at home, against the Chicago White Sox on May 4, 1950.

"The way Cleveland played tonight, we'd better worry about Cleveland, not about Boston," said third baseman Alex Rodriguez.

Jake Westbrook (12-6) improved to 6-1 in his last nine starts, allowing five hits in seven innings. Jeremy Guthrie finished with hitless relief. Cleveland has not allowed a run in 21 innings.

"It's good to see your offense do that," Westbrook said. "It's good for them. It's great for your team."

Cleveland, which had season highs for runs and hits (22), set a team record for largest shutout win, topping its 19-0 rout of Boston on May 18, 1955.

Vazquez, his head bowed, walked off the field to boos after 1 1/3 innings, matching the shortest start of his career. He gave up six runs, and the Indians then scored seven off Tanyon Sturtze and three off C.J. Nitkowski.

"I thought I had good stuff today coming into the game," said Vazquez, who is 2-4 in eight starts following New York losses. "It's one of the worst games ever in my seven-year career."

Cleveland, which moved back over .500 at 67-66, scored three runs in each of the first three innings, then added six in the fifth.

Travis Hafner hit a three-run triple in the first inning, and Coco Crisp homered and drove in three runs. Vizquel and Martinez had four RBIs each.

Vizquel had a chance for a seventh hit, but flied out in the ninth.

"Every at-bat, you try to do what fits the situation," he said. "I just happened to put the ball in play every time."

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