Feels like fire from Santana

Posted: Tuesday, August 24, 2004

ARLINGTON, Texas With each stellar outing, Johan Santana is becoming a top contender for the AL Cy Young Award.

Santana allowed one run in eight innings to win his seventh straight decision, and the Minnesota Twins padded their lead in the AL Central with a 7-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on Monday night.

''If he keeps pitching like that, he's got a serious shot,'' Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said.

Santana (14-6) gave up four hits, struck out 11 and walked one to help the Twins win for the seventh time in eight games, stretching their division lead over Cleveland to eight games.

Santana, who hasn't lost since July 11, struck out Brian Jordan in the second inning to give him 200 this season the first Twins pitcher with that many since Bert Blyleven had 215 in 1986. Santana has 10 double-digit strikeout games this year, 13 for his career.

''He has three quality pitches a good fastball, changeup and slider and that makes for a very good pitcher,'' Gardenhire said.

Santana already has his most career victories and has gone at least six innings in his last 13 starts. He insists he's more concerned about team achievements than postseason awards.

''I'm just doing my job,'' he said. ''If you're healthy and perform, a lot of things will take care of themselves. Winning will take care of things at the end of the season.''

''He had a great night,'' Texas' Alfonso Soriano said. ''He was very awesome. He had a great fastball and a very good breaking ball. I think right now he's the toughest pitcher in the league.''

Shannon Stewart and Henry Blanco homered for the Twins in their first matchup with the Rangers this season.

Kenny Rogers (15-6) allowed six runs and 10 hits in 5 2-3 innings for the Rangers, who've lost two straight following an eight-game winning streak and remain a game behind Boston in the AL wild-card race.

Yankees 6, Indians 4

CLEVELAND Gary Sheffield hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the ninth inning and the New York Yankees sent the fading Cleveland Indians to their eighth straight loss, 6-4 on Monday night.

The Yankees stopped a slide of their own, winning for only the second time in eight games and snapping a three-game losing streak. But shortstop Derek Jeter came out in the ninth after he bruised his left elbow when he was hit by a pitch from Bob Wickman.

Jeter winced in pain and let his limp arm dangle by his side before being helped to the dugout by a trainer. X-rays were negative, and Jeter expects to play Tuesday night.

Tom Gordon (5-3) blew a lead in the eighth but still got the win.

Blue Jays 3, Red Sox 0

TORONTO Ted Lilly struck out a career-high 13 in a three-hit shutout, stopping Boston's six-game winning streak and pitching the Blue Jays past Pedro Martinez and the Red Sox.

Lilly (9-8) set a club record for strikeouts by a left-hander the previous mark of 11 was accomplished twice by David Wells and once by Al Leiter.

Tigers 7, White Sox 0

DETROIT Jeremy Bonderman struck out a career-high 14 and scattered seven hits in his first career shutout.

Bonderman (7-10) threw his first career complete game to win for the first time since July 7. He was 0-4 in his previous eight starts. Bonderman walked one, and his 14 strikeouts were two shy of the club record done by Mickey Lolich twice in 1969.

Athletics 4, Orioles 3

OAKLAND, Calif. Jermaine Dye hit a tying single in the sixth and Adam Melhuse followed with a go-ahead single, leading Oakland over former teammate Miguel Tejada and Baltimore.

Tim Hudson (9-4) pitched 7 1-3 solid innings to beat the Orioles for the second time in six days. The A's sent Baltimore to its seventh consecutive loss and maintained their half-game lead over Anaheim in the AL West.

Angels 9, Royals 4

ANAHEIM, Calif. Bartolo Colon allowed just two singles through the first seven innings and Vladimir Guerrero and Jose Guillen homered on consecutive pitches, helping Anaheim beat Kansas City for its sixth straight victory.

Darrell May (9-14) allowed five runs and nine hits in five innings, tying Arizona's Brandon Webb for the most losses in the majors.

Devil Rays 9, Mariners 0

SEATTLE Scott Kazmir won his major league debut with five impressive innings, and Jose Cruz Jr. hit a three-run homer to lead Tampa Bay past Seattle.

The Devil Rays ended a six-game road losing streak and won for only the second time in their last 17 away from home.

Kazmir (1-0) was acquired July 30 in a trade that sent right-hander Victor Zambrano to the Mets. Considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, the 20-year-old left-hander was called up from Double-A Montgomery to join the Devil Rays' rotation for the final six weeks of the season.

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