Friday, September 11, 2009
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[September 11, 2009]  ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- They dress side by side in the clubhouse when the Los Angeles Angels are at home -- John Lackey, Scott Kazmir and Jered Weaver. The trio of pitchers appeared be playing their own version of "Can You Top This?" during a three-game sweep of Seattle.

Lackey completed the job Thursday night with a 3-0 victory -- going the distance for the first time in 23 starts this season with a five-hitter and seven strikeouts. The Mariners finished the series 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position, and Ichiro Suzuki was an uncharacteristic 1-for-14 with four strikeouts.

"A little healthy competition in the clubhouse is fun, and it's good for the team, for sure," Lackey said. "I don't want one of those guys to one-up me. I want to do a little bit better than them. But when they're out there, I'm the biggest cheerleader they've got."

Lackey (10-7) began the season on the disabled list for the second straight year, missing the first 34 games -- about eight starts -- because of a forearm strain. Since his return on May 16, he has a 3.53 ERA and 125 strikeouts in 155 2-3 innings.

In his last three starts, Lackey has allowed one run in 26 innings. Four of his eight career shutouts have come against the Mariners, including the last three. His previous one was on Aug. 27, 2007, at Seattle.


"He's pitching great baseball," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "And for him to get a complete game is important to us, especially at this time. It shows that his stamina is where it needs to be. He finished strong tonight, and he's got a lot of gas in his tank. So hopefully, he's going to finish this month strong and hopefully beyond."

Torii Hunter hit a tiebreaking two-run homer, helping the Angels increase their AL West lead to five games over idle Texas and move a season-best 29 games over .500.

Suzuki, the two-time AL batting champ, was 0 for 4 and still needs four hits to reach the 200 mark for the ninth consecutive season, which would break the major league mark he shares with Wee Willie Keeler (1894-1901).

"He's a great hitter, so you've got to show him a lot of different things," Lackey said. "You can expand the zone a little bit on him, for sure. He likes to swing and he doesn't take a lot of walks, so there's ways around it."

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Royals 7, Tigers 4

At Kansas City, Mo., Alex Gordon and Alberto Callaspo homered, leading last-place Kansas City to a surprising three-game sweep of the AL Central leaders.

Yuniesky Betancourt drove in two runs for Kansas City, last in a division the Tigers lead by 5 1/2 games over Minnesota.

Roman Colon (2-3) got the win with 1 1-3 innings of scoreless relief. Carlos Rosa pitched the ninth for his first major league save.

Blue Jays 3, Twins 2

At Toronto, Jose Bautista hit a solo homer, Brett Cecil won his final start of the season and the Blue Jays prevented the Twins from gaining ground on Detroit in the AL Central.

Cecil (7-4) allowed two runs and seven hits in six innings and Jason Frasor pitched the ninth for his eighth save in 10 chances.

Scott Baker (13-8) lost for the first time since July 7, giving up three runs and five hits in 6 2-3 innings for Minnesota, which remains 5 1/2 game behind the Tigers in the division.

[Associated Press]

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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