NEW YORK (AP) _ Chien-Ming Wang changed his plan against Boston, and the New York Yankees took what they hope is their first big step toward climbing back into the AL East race.
Alex Rodriguez homered for the third straight game and Wang pitched effectively into the seventh inning Monday night, sending the Yankees to a 6-2 victory that moved them within 9 1/2 games of the division-leading Red Sox.
``It was a big game, a huge game,'' New York manager Joe Torre said. ``It's not an easy club for him to pitch against.''
Jason Giambi snapped a 1-for-26 slide with an upper-deck homer and leadoff batter Johnny Damon got the Yankees started all night against his former team. New York improved to 2-5 this year against its biggest rival, with both wins coming vs. knuckleballer Tim Wakefield.
``We're working our way out of this hole,'' Giambi said. ``I hope that as this weather warms up, so does the offense.''
After struggling previously against the Red Sox, Wang (3-3) threw more soft sliders and changeups this time to go with his hard sinker.
He yielded two runs and seven hits in 6 1-3 innings to win his second consecutive start, becoming the first Yankees pitcher with three wins this season. He threw a career-high 114 pitches, left to a huge ovation from the spirited crowd of 55,078 and tipped his cap as he neared the dugout.
``All he did was keep them off balance,'' pitching coach Ron Guidry said. ``Give 'em something different.''
In other AL games, it was: Cleveland 5, Seattle 2; Texas 14, Minnesota 4; and Chicago 8, Oakland 5.
Boston still owns the best record in the major leagues at 30-14.
Building on a crisp victory the night before over the Mets that prevented a Subway Series sweep, the patient Yankees (20-23) drew eight walks and stole a season-high four bases against Wakefield and his personal catcher, Doug Mirabelli.
New York had five two-out RBIs. Robinson Cano hit a two-run triple and Damon finished with three singles, a walk and two stolen bases.
``His body just looked like it was electric,'' Torre said.
Scott Proctor escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth on a nice play by Cano at second base, and Kyle Farnsworth finished up.
Wakefield (4-5) walked five in five innings and served up both New York homers. Once a befuddling matchup for the Yankees, the right-hander fell to 1-7 with a 6.00 ERA in his past nine starts against them beginning May 27, 2005.
He walked six in 5 1-3 innings during his other start against New York this season, a 3-1 loss on April 28 at Yankee Stadium.
``I tried my best to grind it out, but I never had it tonight,'' Wakefield said.
Kevin Youkilis doubled in the fifth to extend his hitting streak to a career-best 14 games and scored when David Ortiz followed with a double. Wang avoided further damage by retiring Manny Ramirez and J.D. Drew.
Bobby Abreu got a two-out rally started in the bottom half with a single and a stolen base. Giambi walked and hustled home from first on his aching left foot when Cano tripled to left-center, making it 6-1.
``We're getting more comfortable _ especially the thing that deserted us, which was the offense,'' Torre said. ``We won two in a row. We haven't done this in a while. It's not something we usually trumpet, but we haven't done this a lot.''
Rodriguez hit his major league-leading 18th homer with Damon aboard in the first, a long drive to left into Boston's bullpen adjacent to Monument Park.
``Everything is important from now on. We don't have the luxury to throw games away,'' Rodriguez said.
Before hitting three home runs in three days, A-Rod connected only once in 22 games from April 23 until May 19.
``Alex seems to be back,'' Torre said.
Batting seventh in his first start since last Thursday, Giambi hit a solo shot in the second for his sixth homer this season and first since May 3 at Texas.
``It felt a ton better since I got the orthotics,'' Giambi said. ``It felt comfortable just to be in the box. I just felt like I couldn't push off. It was nice to be able to swing and run the bases a little.''
Cano doubled and scored when Jeter extended his hitting streak to 16 games with a single, making him 13-for-20 (.650) this year with two outs and runners in scoring position for a total of 15 RBIs.
Ortiz's sacrifice fly off Mike Myers cut it to 6-2 in the seventh, but the Red Sox finished 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
``Nothing's going to be easy,'' Ortiz said. ``We've still got 120-something games left. We've got to play the game the way it's supposed to be played.''
Indians 5, Mariners 2
At Cleveland, Casey Blake homered off Cha Seung Baek (1-2), Josh Barfield had two RBIs and the Indians improved baseball's best home record to 17-4.
The game was a makeup of the April 6 home opener at Jacobs Field, called after the clubs played 4 2-3 innings in a snowstorm that caused the entire four-game series to be postponed.
Rangers 14, Twins 4
At Arlington, Texas, Gerald Laird hit his first career grand slam in an eight-run fifth and Sammy Sosa had three RBIs for the Rangers, who scored 14 runs for the second consecutive day. Frank Catalanotto, just off the disabled list, and Nelson Cruz also homered to back Vicente Padilla (2-6).
Carlos Silva (2-5) allowed seven runs and nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.
White Sox 8, Athletics 5
At Chicago, Rob Mackowiak hit a tiebreaking, two-run single in the sixth off Joe Blanton (4-2), and Darin Erstad drove in three runs in support of Jose Contreras (4-4). Paul Konerko added three of Chicago's season-high 14 hits and scored three times. Bobby Jenks pitched out of trouble in the ninth for his 14th save.
Nick Swisher had five RBIs and three hits for Oakland (22-22).