AJ Burnett pitched for his fifth consecutive win and Nick Swisher homered twice as the New York Yankees pounded the Tampa Bay Rays 11-4 to stay two and a half games ahead of the Boston Red Sox in the American League East. Burnett (10-4) held the Rays to two hits and one run over seven innings as the Yankees recorded their 10th win in 11 games. He struck out five and walked two in his fifth consecutive win.
"I didn't really feel overpowering," Burnett said. "Obviously, when you're on a roll, you're more confident than when you're not." Swisher said Burnett gave the Yankees a boost whenever he pitched. "He's one of those guys that you hate facing, but you love him on your team," the New York outfielder said. "He's a gamer. Everybody sees how he goes about his business. "On game day, you don't even talk to him. He's just completely focused all day, and tonight, he went out there and did an awesome job for us."
Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria, who was hitless in three at bats, agreed. "He didn't really give us many opportunities to score," Longoria said. "He's tough. He throws to both sides of the plate and throws hard." Robinson Cano and Swisher hit back to back home runs to take the Yankees to a 5-0 lead in the sixth inning. Swisher added a solo home run and Johnny Damon smacked a three-run homer in the four-run Yankees' ninth.
Josh Beckett shone again for Boston and was helped as the offence clicked for the Red Sox in their 8-3 victory over Oakland Athletics. Beckett notched his American League-leading 12th win by striking out 10 and allowing three runs over seven innings. Minnesota moved to within one game of second-placed Chicago in the American League Central with a 4-3 win over the White Sox.
Central pacesetters Detroit came undone again against Texas, slipping to their second successive defeat at the hands of the Rangers. Toronto finished strongly to defeat Seattle 11-4. Rod Barajas and Lyle Overbay homered for the Canadians. * Reuters