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A-Rod homers, New York rallies past Tigers

Alex Rodriguez hit his major league-leading 17th home run last night in New York to help the Yankees rally for a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Tigers.

The two-run shot gave him 49 RBIs, also tops in the majors and was the 398th home run of his career, tying Dale Murphy for 42d place on the all-time list. A-Rod needs one homer to tie Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga (399) for 40th place and two to become only the 40th player to reach 400.

Fancy numbers for a guy who occasionally has heard it from fans complaining that he has not delivered in the clutch.

''I think it took a little time for him to settle in," manager Joe Torre said. ''When you come here with great expectations, you try to do too much. And he's coming from places where he had to do too much and in spite of what he did, his teams did not win regularly. I think this year, he's a different person."

The Yankees won their fourth straight and 15th in 17 games, and moved one-half game ahead of Boston, which lost in Toronto, for second place in the AL East. It's the first time since April 10 New York was higher than third in the division.

The Yankees haven't led the Red Sox in the standings since April 13, when New York was 4-4 and Boston was 3-5.

Rodriguez's homer in the fifth inning against Jeremy Bonderman followed a single by Hideki Matsui.

Mariano Rivera gave up a single to Jason Smith in the ninth but struck out the side for his 11th save.

Devil Rays 2, Athletics 1--Hideo Nomo took a shutout into the eighth inning and Carl Crawford snapped a scoreless tie with a sixth-inning single to help Tampa Bay beat Oakland in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Nomo struck out seven and walked two before leaving the game after yielding a leadoff homer to Marco Scutaro and a one-out single to Jason Kendall in the eighth. The Devil Rays bullpen then protected a one-run lead to give the 36-year-old righthander his 199th win in his career in the United States and Japan.

It was Nomo's seventh attempt to move within one win of the 200 victories he needs to automatically gain membership in the Meikyuakai, one of two Hall of Fame equivalents in Japanese baseball. He has 121 wins in 11 major league seasons.

Nomo (3-4) allowed five hits in 7 1/3 innings, his longest outing of the season, and won for the first time since beating Randy Johnson at Yankee Stadium April 19.

Angels 3, White Sox 2 -- John Lackey pitched seven sharp innings and Dallas McPherson hit a go-ahead two-run homer to give Los Angeles the victory over Chicago in Anaheim, Calif.

Lackey (5-2) gave up two runs and six hits, struck out five, and walked two as the teams split the four-game series that was dominated by solid pitching.

Scot Shields got the final four outs for his sixth save in seven chances.

Chicago tied the game at 1 in the fourth on Tadahito Iguchi's RBI single. Lackey threw a wild pitch and loaded the bases before escaping.

Orioles 5, Mariners 2 -- Melvin Mora, Rafael Palmeiro, and Miguel Tejada homered to back a strong pitching performance by Daniel Cabrera, and host Baltimore completed a three-game sweep of Seattle.

Mora had three hits for the Orioles, whose eighth win in 11 games moved them a season-high 14 games over .500 (30-16). Baltimore has won eight in a row at Camden Yards against the Mariners, who have lost six straight and 10 of 11 on the road under former Orioles manager Mike Hargrove.

Cabrera (4-3) allowed one run and three hits in seven innings before leaving with a 3-1 lead. The righthander struck out eight and walked two.

Rangers 8, Royals 1 -- Kenny Rogers didn't have to be at his sharpest to win his sixth straight start for host Texas, which hit three home runs to complete a sweep of Kansas City.

Rogers (6-2) gave up a run in the first and allowed six base runners through the fourth, even with a three-up, three-down inning in that stretch. But the 40-year-old lefthander held the Royals to that single run over seven innings, lowering his AL-leading ERA to 1.69.

Richard Hidalgo homered for the fifth time in five games, and Alfonso Soriano and Mark Teixeira also homered in Texas's sixth straight win.

Twins 5, Indians 4 -- Shannon Stewart homered with two outs in the 11th inning off David Riske to give Minnesota a win over host Cleveland and a split of their tight, four-game series.

Stewart ripped a 2-and-2 pitch from Riske (1-2) over the wall in straightaway center field and into the empty picnic pavilion as the Twins won the third straight extra-inning game between the rivals.

Of the 10 games between Minnesota and Cleveland this season, six have been decided by one run.

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