NEW YORK -- Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira homered in a nine-run second inning, and the New York Yankees routed the Boston Red Sox 10-2 Monday night to open a one-game lead over Baltimore in the AL East with two games to play.
Baltimore lost 5-3 at Tampa Bay and dropped into second place, prompting cheers from the crowd when the final score was posted before the ninth inning. The Yankees, who clinched their 17th playoff berth in 18 years on Sunday, would ensure their 13th division title in 17 years by sweeping the three-game series against the Red Sox.
New York tied its record for home runs in an inning, achieving the feat for the third time. The offense backed CC Sabathia (15-6), who allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts and a walk.
Making his third straight strong start, Sabathia stayed in for 103 pitches rather than come out with New York ahead in a laugher. Manager Joe Girardi wouldn’t say before the game whether he’d consider starting his ace on short rest Friday if New York fails to win the division and winds up in the new one-game, wild-card playoff.
Cano homered leading off the second against Clay Buchholz, a drive off the blue facing below the glass-enclosed bar behind Monument Park in center, and hit a two-run double later in the inning. He added another double in the fourth.
Granderson hit a two-run, second-deck homer to right and Martin followed with a solo shot off the top of the wall above the scoreboard in right-center, a drive upheld after a video review.
Teixeira, back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 8 following his recovery from a strained left calf, greeted Alfredo Aceves with a two-run drive into the second deck in right. Nick Swisher nearly followed with another homer, hitting a foul drive deep down the right-field line before doubling.
Even slumping Alex Rodriguez got in on the offense, hitting a sacrifice fly to end a streak of 11 games without an RBI. He tied Stan Musial for fifth place on the career list at 1,950.
Boston, starting what may be its final series under first-year manager Bobby Valentine, has lost six in a row and 10 of 11, reaching 91 defeats for the first time since dropping 100 games in 1965. In what resembled a spring training lineup, the Red Sox started just two regular position players, Cody Ross and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Six of the starters had uniform Nos. 50 or higher.
Dustin Pedroia was out of the starting lineup because of an injured finger, and Jacoby Ellsbury sat against the left-hander after returning from an injury last weekend.
Buchholz (11-8) was roughed up for eight runs and six hits -- three of them homers -- in 1 2-3 innings. The eight earned runs were a career high.
Daniel Nava homered for the Red Sox leading off the fourth.
NOTES: Girardi scratched Ivan Nova from his scheduled start Tuesday following a pair of poor outings and replaced him with rookie David Phelps. Hiroki Kuroda starts Wednesday and Andy Pettitte is lined up to start Thursday if a tiebreaker game is needed to decide the AL East. Phil Hughes would pitch on normal rest if there is a game Friday and the Yankees decide not to bring back Sabathia then. ... New York has outhomered Boston 38-14 in matchups this season. ... The Yankees also homered four times in an inning on June 30, 1977, at Toronto (Cliff Johnson twice, Thurman Munson and Lou Piniella), and on June 21, 2005, against Tampa Bay (Gary Sheffield, Rodriguez, Hideki Matsui and Jorge Posada). ... The inning was the highest-scoring one for the Yankees since they got 12 runs against Baltimore on July 30 last year in the opening inning of the second game of a doubleheader. ... Yankees LF Ichiro Suzuki made a leaping catch on Danny Valencia’s drive in front of the wall in the corner to end the seventh. ... New York’s Melky Mesa had an RBI single in the eighth in his first big league at-bat. ... Freddy Garcia pitched a perfect ninth. ... Former Yankees manager Joe Torre and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani were at the game.
Rays 5, Orioles 3
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Alex Cobb allowed two hits over seven innings Monday night, helping the Tampa Bay Rays keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a 5-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Ben Zobrist hit his 20th homer and Chris Giminez had a two-run double off Wei-Yin Chen as the Rays pulled away from a 1-1 tie. Cobb (11-9) yielded a fourth-inning single to J.J. Hardy and an opposite-field solo homer to Matt Wieters that had tied it in the top of the seventh.
The Rays won for the 11th time in 12 games, a stretch that’s kept them in contention for the AL’s second wild-card.
They began the night trailing Oakland by three games and must sweep the Orioles and hope the A’s drop three straight to Texas to remain alive.
Baltimore already is assured of being in the playoffs for the first time in 15 years, but still has its sights on outlasting the Yankees for the AL East title.
White Sox 11, Indians 0
CLEVELAND -- Rookie Hector Santiago allowed just one hit in seven shutout innings as the Chicago White Sox kept their slim playoff hopes alive -- for the moment -- with an 11-0 win over the Cleveland Indians on Monday night.
Santiago (4-1), who began the season as Chicago’s closer, struck out a season-high 10. The Indians’ only hit off the left-hander was Shin-Soo Choo’s two-out single in the third.
With just their third win in 13 games, the second-place White Sox remained in contention in the AL Central pending the outcome of Detroit’s game in Kansas City. A win by the first-place Tigers will eliminate the White Sox, who collapsed down the stretch after being in first place in the division for 63 straight days.
The White Sox scored four runs in the sixth off Corey Kluber (2-5).