DETROIT Jose Contreras won his eighth straight start and Scott Podsednik had four hits, leading Chicago to an 8-2 win over Detroit on Wednesday night that opened a three-game lead for the White Sox in the AL Central.
Chicago would clinch no worse than a wild-card berth in the playoffs with one more victory.
With Chicago's win and second-place Cleveland's 1-0 loss to Tampa Bay, the White Sox lowered their magic number to two for clinching their first division title since 2000.
Chicago, which had lost its previous two games, led the AL Central by 15 games on Aug. 1 no team with a lead of more than 13 games has ever failed to finish first.
Carl Everett's two-run triple broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth, and Juan Uribe and Aaron Rowand homered for the White Sox, who had 15 hits.
Devil Rays 1, Indians 0
CLEVELAND Tampa Bay's Seth McClung pitched eight shutout innings and the Indians dropped three games behind the first-place White Sox with four to play.
Cleveland remained tied with Boston for first in the wild-card race.
McClung (7-11) allowed four hits and only two runners reached second base. He outpitched Cliff Lee (18-5) and handed the Indians their third straight setback the club's first three-game slide since being swept by the Devil Rays on Aug. 12-14.
Yankees 2, Orioles 1
BALTIMORE Alex Rodriguez hit a milestone homer, Derek Jeter singled in the tiebreaking run in the seventh inning, and the Yankees used a fine pitching performance by Shawn Chacon to beat Baltimore.
The Yankees took a one-game lead over Boston in the AL East with four games to play.
Rodriguez hit his 47th homer off Daniel Cabrera (10-13) to tie it at 1 in the sixth. The shot broke Joe DiMaggio's season club record for home runs by a right-handed batter, set in 1937.
New York went up 2-1 in the seventh. After Jorge Posada hit a leadoff single and Cabrera hit Bernie Williams with a pitch, Robinson Cano moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt against Tim Byrdak. Jeter then hit an opposite-field single to right off Todd Williams.
Blue Jays 7, Red Sox 2
BOSTON Bronson Arroyo gave up three homers and all seven runs for Boston, which dropped one game behind New York in the AL East with four games remaining.
Frank Catalanotto doubled, tripled and homered for the Blue Jays, who won their second straight over the Red Sox.
Boston remained tied in the wild-card race with Cleveland.
Vernon Wells and Eric Hinske also homered, and Ted Lilly (10-11) allowed two runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings to improve to 3-0 against the Red Sox this season.
Boston was 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and has been shut out for 9 2-3 innings by Toronto relievers.
Twins 6, Royals 3
MINNEAPOLIS Jacque Jones hit a go-ahead triple in a three-run eighth to lead Minnesota and hand Kansas City a team record-tying 104th loss.
Luis Rodriguez was walked by Andrew Sisco (2-5) to open the inning, and advanced to second on a groundout. Jones, who had two hits in his previous 17 at-bats, hit a drive to left-center for his fourth triple of the season. Michael Cuddyer doubled off Chris Demaria later in the inning for two more runs.
Athletics 6, Angels 1
OAKLAND, Calif. Eric Chavez hit a two-run homer to reach 100 RBIs and Oakland's slumping offense woke up a couple of nights too late.
One night after clinching their second straight AL West title, the Angels rested most of their regulars and A's starter Dan Haren (14-12) took advantage, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings.
Rangers 7, Mariners 3
SEATTLE Chris Young survived a shaky first inning and went on to match the Texas rookie record with his 12th victory.
Young (12-7) allowed three runs in the first inning but retired the final eight batters he faced and 11 of the last 12. The 6-foot-10 right-hander allowed three runs and five hits, struck out four and walked one to match the Rangers' first-year record set by Edwin Correa in 1986 and matched by Kevin Brown in 1989.
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