BOSTON The Oakland Athletics took the lead in the AL wild-card race on Tuesday night. Whether they can hold onto it may depend on how badly their top pitcher is hurt.
Mark Mulder left with a nagging hip injury after three innings, but Ramon Hernandez hit a three-run homer and the Oakland bullpen pitched six scoreless innings to lead the A's over the Boston Red Sox 3-2.
''It's tough to see one of your horses go down,'' said A's pitcher Tim Hudson, also recovering from an injury. ''But I'm excited to see our bullpen do the job for us. They did an unbelievable job.''
Oakland took a one-game lead in the race for the league's wild-card spot despite getting three hits just two of them in the first six innings off Derek Lowe, who also left the game with an injury, a blister on his right thumb.
''I was disappointed that we had to make a move there that we were not anticipating,'' Red Sox manager Grady Little said. ''I was looking at the guy going nine innings tonight with the stuff he had.''
Lowe also left his June 8 start because of the blister, but he didn't miss a start then and he said he doesn't expect to now.
''You have to look down the line,'' he said. ''You want to pitch every five days. That's the key.''
Ricardo Rincon (7-4) pitched 1 2-3 innings, walking one and striking out three. Keith Foulke got three outs for his 32nd save as the A's remained four games behind Seattle in the AL West.
Boston lost for the eighth time in 12 games and dropped a season-high 6 1/2 games behind the New York Yankees in the East. Scott Williamson (0-1) took the loss for giving up Hernandez's homer.
Mulder is 15-9 with a 3.13 ERA among the league leaders in both categories and the top winner on a staff that includes AL Cy Young winner Barry Zito. His nine complete games leads the majors by far, making even more surprising for him to leave so early in the game.
''I couldn't make good pitches,'' said Mulder, who allowed two runs and six hits in three innings his shortest outing of the year. ''It's frustrating, because it's a big part of the season right now.''
Yankees 6, Royals 3
NEW YORK Karim Garcia homered for the third straight game, and the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals.
Alfonso Soriano and Bernie Williams also homered as the Yankees won their sixth in a row to move a season-high 30 games over .500 at 77-47.
Andy Pettitte (15-7) took a shutout into the seventh, but was hurt by three errors two by second baseman Alfonso Soriano. Pettitte allowed three runs one earned and eight hits in 6 2-3 innings to win for the 10th time in his last 11 decisions.
Jeff Nelson struck out two in 1 1-3 perfect innings and Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 26th save.
Kevin Appier (8-9), who pitched six scoreless innings in beating the Yankees last week, allowed six runs and six hits in six innings.
Mariners 9, Blue Jays 1
TORONTO Edgar Martinez hit a tiebreaking three-run homer in the fifth and drove in four runs against Kelvim Escobar (9-7), who lost for the first time in seven starts since June 17. Seattle remained four games ahead of second-place Oakland in the AL West.
Ryan Franklin (9-10) allowed one run and five hits in six innings.
Twins 8, Indians 2
CLEVELAND Johan Santana (7-3) struck out a season-high 10 and allowed eight hits in eight innings as Minnesota closed within 1 1/2 games of Kansas City, the closest the Twins have been the AL Central since July 2.
Matt LeCroy hit a three-run homer in the sixth off Jason Davis (7-10) and Dustan Mohr added a two-run homer in the eighth for Minnesota, 4-8 against Cleveland this season.
Casey Blake went 4-for-4 with a two-run homer for the Indians.
Rangers 5, Tigers 4
DETROIT Alex Rodriguez hit a three-run homer and tripled as Texas won its seventh straight.
Detroit has lost seven straight and 11 of 12, falling a franchise-worst 62 games under .500 at 31-93. The Tigers (31-93) are 6-26 since the All-Star break and have had six losing streaks of seven or more games this year.
John Thomson (11-10) improved to 4-0 in his last six starts, giving up four runs and 11 hits in eight-plus innings. Brian Shouse got three outs for his first career save, escaping a two-on, no-outs jam in the ninth.
Devil Rays 9, Orioles 2
BALTIMORE Rocco Baldelli drove in three runs, helping send Baltimore to its eighth straight loss. Julio Lugo and Jared Sandberg homered in a five-run ninth.
Jeremi Gonzalez (6-5) allowed two runs one earned and five hits in 7 1-3 innings. Eric DuBose (1-3) gave up three runs and nine hits over seven innings in his first start since taking the starting spot of Rick Helling.
White Sox 5, Angels 2
CHICAGO Carlos Lee keyed a four-run seventh with a bases-loaded single off Scott Shields (3-4) as Chicago moved within one game first-place Kansas City in the AL Central.
Adam Riggs and Alfredo Amezaga hit their first major league homers for the Angels, but Amezaga's throwing error and back-to-back bunt singles helped Chicago break a 1-1 tie in the seventh.
Jon Garland (9-9) allowed five hits in eight innings. Tom Gordon pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save.
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