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Dice-K Throws Complete Game for Red Sox

BOSTON (AP) _ Just six weeks into the season, Daisuke Matsuzaka is on a roll and so are the Red Sox.

The rookie from Japan, who cost the team $103 million, pitched his first complete game in the majors and won his fourth straight decision Monday night, 7-1 over the Detroit Tigers.

The victory gave the Red Sox an 8 1/2-game lead in the AL East, their second largest margin in team history at this point of the season _ only 37 games. And they're 20-0 when they score five runs or more.

``We have to continue to play good solid baseball and it has to start with our pitching,'' catcher Jason Varitek said. ``We can't scoreboard watch.''

The pitching has been brilliant all season. Matsuzaka is 5-2 with a 4.17 ERA, but three other starters have even better ERAs _ Tim Wakefield (1.79), Josh Beckett (2.66) and Curt Schilling (3.63). And the bullpen's 2.34 ERA is the lowest in the majors.

In other AL games, it was: Kansas City 2, Oakland 1; Los Angeles Angels 7, Texas 2; and Toronto 5, Baltimore 3.

Matsuzaka allowed only one runner past second base, six hits and no walks. He struck out five and threw a season-high 124 pitches _ a large number in the United States but not unusual in Japan, where he had 13 complete games last year.

``I didn't see any reason to take him out,'' Red Sox manager Terry Francona said. ``He was better at the end than he was at the beginning.''

Matsuzaka did give up a leadoff single to Gary Sheffield in the ninth but struck out Magglio Ordonez, who is hitting .341, then easily retired the next two batters for Boston's first complete game of the year.

``I just hope that I can continue to pitch like I did today,'' Matsuzaka said through a translator. ``I'm not too concerned about the pitch count.''

Two of Detroit's hits were by leadoff batter Curtis Granderson. In the first inning, he reached second on a single and error by right fielder J.D. Drew, but Matsuzaka retired the next three batters, two on strikeouts. In the third, Granderson hit his seventh homer of the season.

Matsuzaka retired 16 batters on grounders.

``His fastball was in the mid 90s,'' Granderson said. ``Once he established that, he threw his cutter, curve and changeup.''

Detroit starter Nate Robertson (3-3) threw 115 pitches but only worked five innings.

``They do grind out a lot of at-bats,'' he said. ``Pitchers throw a lot of pitches against them. I threw three good pitches for strikes tonight. They fouled off some good pitches.''

The Tigers' 1-0 lead didn't last long as David Ortiz singled in the tying run in the third. Run-scoring singles by Coco Crisp in the fourth and Manny Ramirez in the fifth made it 3-1, and Boston added four runs in the eighth off Bobby Seay on Julio Lugo's bases-loaded triple and Kevin Youkilis' RBI single.

The AL Central-leading Tigers dropped their second straight game and fell to 23-14. Both teams are 11-3 in their last 14 games.

Boston's 8 1/2-game lead is its biggest since it held the same margin after play on Sept. 26, 1995. The idle New York Yankees dropped 8 1/2 games back, their largest division deficit since they trailed by nine games after play on May 7, 2005.

Royals 2, Athletics 1

At Oakland, Calif., John Buck broke up a scoreless game with a two-run homer in the ninth inning against Justin Duchscherer and Kansas City won consecutive games for just the third time this season.

For the second time in six days, Oakland's Dan Haren and Kansas City's Gil Meche pitched well against each other with neither getting a decision. And just like last week in Kansas City, a late home run against Duchscherer (3-3) decided the game.

Jimmy Gobble (2-1) escaped a jam in the eighth and Joakim Soria pitched the ninth for his seventh save in nine chances. Pinch-hitter Shannon Stewart hit an RBI single in the ninth before Soria struck out Travis Buck to end the game.

Haren allowed four hits in eight innings to lower his ERA to an AL-best 1.64. Meche is third in the league with a 1.91 ERA after allowing seven hits in seven innings.

Angels 7, Rangers 2

At Arlington, Texas, Kevin Millwood came off the disabled list for Texas, gave up a first-inning grand slam to Casey Kotchman, then left after five outs with an aggravated hamstring.

Millwood (2-4), who had been out since April 28 with a strained left hamstring, allowed four runs and three hits with three walks.

Angels starter Jered Weaver (2-3) gave up six hits in his longest outing of the season. In seven innings, he walked two, struck out five and threw 57 of 87 pitches for strikes. He allowed Hank Blalock's fourth homer of the season in the fourth.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 3

At Toronto, Troy Glaus hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning and the Blue Jays rallied to get the win.

Frank Thomas drew a one-out walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Jason Smith before Glaus drilled a 1-0 pitch from Danys Baez (0-2) into the second deck in left for his seventh homer.

Casey Janssen (1-0) got two outs to get the win and Jeremy Accardo pitched the ninth for his second save in as many chances.
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