Monday, September 28, 2009
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[September 28, 2009]  NEW YORK (AP) -- Even before Mariano Rivera fielded the final ball, the party started for the New York Yankees.

Catcher Jose Molina leaped up from behind the plate the moment Jacoby Ellsbury tapped softly back to the mound, then the celebration really got going.

Absent from the playoffs last year, the Yankees let loose Sunday after clinching the AL East title and home-field advantage throughout the postseason with a 4-2 win over Boston.

"Everything is clicking right now," winning pitcher Andy Pettitte said. "When you miss out, it makes you a little more hungry to get back there."

Soaked to the skin with champagne, Mark Teixeira stood on the giant "NY" logo emblazoned on the soggy clubhouse carpet and shouted like crazy.

"Tastes good!" he hollered.

Favored to win the World Series since opening day, Derek Jeter, Rivera and a roomful of All-Star multimillionaires acted like playoff rookies after posting their major league-leading 100th victory.

They chanted, jumped around and absolutely drenched their high-tech clubhouse -- plastic sheets covered the computer screens in every locker and flat-screen TVs overhead. Teixeira and many others wore swimming goggles to stave off the sting -- of victory, that is.


"I think the way last year ended left a bad taste in all our mouths," manager Joe Girardi said. "There's a lot of excitement. This has been a fun group, and they enjoy it."

Hideki Matsui's go-ahead single in the sixth inning energized the fans and put them on notice that a party was coming. The first real bash at the new Yankee Stadium began with a real familiar scene -- Rivera on the mound, closing out another clincher.

Nick Swisher wasted no time putting on an AL East Champions hat. The crowd gave a standing ovation as the Yankees began walking off the field, with Jeter at the front and several teammates pulling on gray championship T-shirts.

"Winning a championship is what I came here for," pitcher CC Sabathia said. "It definitely feels good -- first one in pinstripes, first one in the new stadium, first celebration."

The three-game sweep extended the Yankees' winning streak to five. They finished 9-9 against Boston this year -- startling since New York lost the first eight matchups.

"We're going to see them again down the road, we have a feeling," slugger Alex Rodriguez said.

Despite the defeat, the Red Sox remain in firm control of the wild-card race. Their magic number is two to beat out Texas for the final playoff spot.

Boston manager Terry Francona was hardly surprised the Yankees bounced back after last year's playoff miss.

"I think I actually made the comment that they'd get aggravated and spend a billion dollars. I was half-right. They have a good team and that's an unbelievable regular season," he said.

Royals 4, Twins 1

At Kansas City, Mo., Zack Greinke pitched out of trouble for seven innings to bolster his AL Cy Young Award chances and Yuniesky Betancourt hit a three-run homer, helping Kansas City win its home finale.

Greinke (16-8) worked out of a bases-loaded jam with no outs in the third and escaped two other tight spots to drop his major league-best ERA to 2.06.

Minnesota remained two games behind the first-place Tigers in the AL Central. The teams begin a four-game series Monday night in Detroit.

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White Sox 8, Tigers 4

At Chicago, Carlos Quentin hit a three-run homer for the second straight game, rookie Daniel Hudson earned his first major league victory and Chicago won its third in 11 games.

Hudson (1-1) outpitched All-Star Edwin Jackson (13-8) over six solid innings, and Quentin broke it open with a drive to right that capped a four-run eighth and made it 8-2.

Angels 7, Athletics 4

At Anaheim, Calif., Kendry Morales homered and drove in three runs, and Los Angeles snapped its first four-game losing streak of the season.

Morales had three hits and Mike Napoli also homered for the Angels, who blew most of an early five-run lead before hanging on. Their first victory since last Monday, coupled with Texas' loss to Tampa Bay, reduced Los Angeles' magic number to two for clinching its third straight AL West title.

Rays 7, Rangers 6

At Arlington, Texas, Fernando Perez drove home the go-ahead run with a safety squeeze in the ninth inning and Tampa Bay overcame a five-run deficit to spoil Texas' home finale.

The Rangers led 5-0 when Brandon McCarthy threw his last pitch with two outs in the eighth, after an error by third baseman Chris Davis extended the inning. Four relievers faltered after that.

Blue Jays 5, Mariners 4

At Toronto, pinch-hitter Adam Lind had a tying RBI single in the eighth inning and Rod Barajas followed with a go-ahead double to rally the Blue Jays.

Brian Wolfe (2-2) was the winner in Toronto's home finale and Shawn Camp earned his first save since 2006 with Tampa Bay.


Indians 9, Orioles 0

At Cleveland, Kelly Shoppach hit a three-run homer, David Huff pitched eight strong innings and the Indians extended Baltimore's skid to 10 games.

The Orioles have scored 29 runs during the losing streak.

Asdrubal Cabrera tied a career high with four hits and drove in three runs as Cleveland swept a three-game series for the first time since July 24-26 at Seattle.

[Associated Press; By BEN WALKER]

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

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