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Runaway for Rangers

Rodriguez, Yankees can't catch up with Laird, Texas

Gerald Laird dives in with a fifth-inning triple, setting up the go-ahead run. (JIM McISAAC/GETTY IMAGES)

Alex Rodriguez let Gerald Laird pull away, and a short while later, the Texas Rangers got away from the New York Yankees, too.

Laird outraced A-Rod in a rundown to score the go-ahead run in a three-run fifth inning, and the Rangers went on to rout the host Yankees, 14-2, yesterday.

"That," Mark Teixeira said, "might have been a game-changer right there."

Teixeira had four hits, including three doubles, and three RBIs. Pinch hitter Victor Diaz hit his first career grand slam as Texas scored 10 runs in the seventh and eighth innings against Chien-Ming Wang (1-3), Luis Vizcaino, and Sean Henn to break open the game.

Before that, Brandon McCarthy (3-4) limited New York to one run in 5 1/3 innings.

Most agreed that the rundown was the turning point.

"If they get him out there, they might have stopped our momentum," Texas manager Ron Washington said.

With the score 1-1 in the fifth, Texas took advantage of New York's fielding failures. Laird hit a leadoff triple on a catchable fly that dropped behind Bobby Abreu, who slowed as he neared the right-field wall. Kenny Lofton grounded out with the infield in, and Brad Wilkerson grounded sharply to third.

Rodriguez threw home, trapping Laird in a rundown, and Jorge Posada threw back to third. A-Rod faked a throw and then ran after Laird, choosing not to throw to Wang covering the plate. Laird dived home for a 2-1 lead, clipping A-Rod under the chin with his foot.

"When I turned around heading toward the plate, I saw somebody there, but I figured I'd just keep going to see if they made a play," Laird said.

A-Rod wouldn't directly address what went wrong during the rundown. "I have no idea. That was so long ago," he said.

Orioles 11, Devil Rays 6 -- Kevin Millar homered and drove in four runs, Corey Patterson had three hits and three RBIs, and host Baltimore thumped Tampa Bay for a three-game sweep.

Millar might have had six RBIs if not for an outstanding catch by Tampa Bay center fielder Rocco Baldelli. Still, the Orioles set a season high for runs and moved into second place in the AL East with their fifth win in seven games.

Daniel Cabrera (3-3) allowed six runs and eight hits in six innings but improved to 4-0 against Tampa Bay in eight career starts.

Angels 8, Indians 0 -- Kelvim Escobar pitched a seven-hitter, Gary Matthews Jr. hit a three-run homer to highlight a five-run third inning, and host Los Angeles beat Cleveland.

Escobar (4-1) struck out nine and walked none to win his third straight start. It was his fourth career shutout and first since he did it for the Blue Jays June 8, 2003, at Cincinnati.

Athletics 17, Royals 3 -- Dan Johnson and Jack Cust each homered twice and Oakland routed host Kansas City.

Danny Putnam hit his first major league home run and Eric Chavez also connected for Oakland.

White Sox 3, Twins 0 -- Jose Contreras (3-3) pitched a five-hitter for his second career shutout and Chicago beat host Minnesota.

A.J. Pierzynski, Ryan Sweeney, and Pablo Ozuna hit RBI singles for the White Sox.

Tigers 7, Mariners 3 -- Magglio Ordonez and Brandon Inge homered against struggling Seattle starter Jeff Weaver and host Detroit downed the Mariners.

Weaver gave up six runs in five innings.

Braves 5, Padres 3 -- Kelly Johnson came through with a two-out, bases-loaded double in the sixth inning as Tim Hudson (4-1) and host Atlanta edged San Diego.

Hudson was staked to a 2-0 lead when the Braves put together four straight hits in the first.

Reds 9, Astros 5 -- Ken Griffey Jr. hit his 569th career homer, a two-run shot that tied him for ninth place on the career list with Rafael Palmeiro and helped Cincinnati outslug Houston for its first win in six home games against the Astros.

Cincinnati pulled ahead, 7-0, after three innings against starter Matt Albers (1-2).

Rockies 5, Giants 3 -- Troy Tulowitzki hit a two-run double off Noah Lowry (4-3) in the third and scored from second base when shortstop Omar Vizquel threw wildly past third after fielding Matt Holliday's bouncer, sparking host Colorado over San Francisco.

Pirates 6, Cubs 4 -- Jason Bay homered and drove in three runs against Carlos Zambrano (3-3) to help Pittsburgh beat host Chicago.