David Price earned his league-leading 18th win with another superb performance against the New York Yankees, and the Tampa Bay Rays opened a key series against their AL East rival on Friday night by taking advantage of a fading C.C. Sabathia and hanging on for a 6-4 victory. The Rays began the day four games behind division co-leaders Baltimore and New York.
Out of the rotation since Sept. 2 because of a sore shoulder, Price (18-5) boosted his AL Cy Young Award credentials with seven innings of two-run ball. Striking out six and giving up five hits, the lanky lefty got a big lift from an inadvertent deflection off an umpire and a fine play by second baseman Elliot Johnson.
Price improved to 7-3 against the Yankees. The Rays have won seven of the eight games he has matched up against Sabathia.
With Price out of the game, Alex Rodriguez hit his 647th homer, a two-run shot off Joel Peralta in the eighth that sent him past Lou Gehrig for ninth place on the runs list with 1,889.
Derek Jeter, serving as the designated hitter for a second straight day because of an injured ankle, singled leading off the inning to wake up the fans silenced by Tampa Bay’s rally against Sabathia (13-6). Jeter had an infield single in the fifth to pass Willie Mays for 10th on the hits list with 3,284.
After a walk to Robinson Cano, closer Fernando Rodney entered. The top reliever by ERA in the majors (0.68) struck out Russell Martin, threw a wild pitch and walked pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez. Curtis Granderson meekly grounded to end the threat. Rodney finished with a perfect ninth for his 43rd save in 45 chances.
WHITE SOX 6, TWINS 0
In Minneapolis, Minnesota, Chris Sale threw six scoreless innings for his 17th victory after being rained out the night before, helping Chicago keep their one-game lead over Detroit in the AL Central.
Sale (17-6) scattered three singles and struck out five without a walk, cruising to his third win in three starts against Minnesota this year.
Sale was supposed to pitch Thursday night against Detroit, but that game was postponed until Monday.
Dayan Viciedo had two RBIs, Kevin Youkilis homered and Alex Rios doubled, scored and drove in a run for the White Sox, who played without injured slugger Adam Dunn for the seventh straight game.
Esmerling Vasquez (0-2) was the loser.
TIGERS 4, INDIANS 0
In Cleveland, Ohio, Justin Verlander pitched seven shutout innings and made sure Detroit stayed in step with first-place Chicago in the AL Central, leading the Tigers past Cleveland.
Coming through the way he almost always does, Verlander (14-8) allowed six hits. He escaped jams in the fifth and sixth innings with help from Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera, big men best known for their powerful bats, who made stellar defensive plays.
Detroit took a 4-0 lead after two innings against Corey Kluber (1-4)
The Indians, who were within 3.5 games of first place when they rallied to beat Verlander on July 26, are 16-44 since the All-Star break.
In other AL action, it was:
‧ Rangers 9, Mariners 3
‧ Red Sox 8, Blue Jays 5
‧ Angels 9, Royals 7
‧ Athletics 3, Orioles 2
AP, ATLANTA, Georgia
Kris Medlen struck out a career-high 13 and the Atlanta Braves pulled out a 2-1 victory over the Washington Nationals when Andrelton Simmons scored on a throwing error in the ninth inning Friday night.