Lou Piniella spent 10 years teaching the Seattle Mariners how to get to first place _ and the last two days knocking them out of the top spot. Toby Hall homered in the ninth inning, lifting Piniella's Tampa Bay Devil Rays to a 3-2 victory over slumping Seattle on Thursday.
The Mariners fell two games behind Oakland in the AL West after leading the division for 4 1/2 months. They lost for the eighth time in nine games, leaving them a half-game behind Boston in the wild-card chase.
``We're a very good team. We just haven't shown it on the field in the last few weeks,'' outfielder Mike Cameron said.
Al Martin also homered for the Devil Rays, who took two of three in Seattle _ only the third series Tampa Bay has ever won against the Mariners.
Piniella, who managed the Mariners the past 10 seasons, enjoyed a dramatic victory Thursday on his 60th birthday.
``What a clutch home run,'' he said with a smile.
In other AL games, it was: Oakland 6, Baltimore 4; New York 7, Chicago 5; Minnesota 6, Anaheim 1; Cleveland 8, Detroit 3; and Kansas City 6, Texas 5 in 11 innings.
Seattle's Bret Boone tied it at 2 with a solo shot in the eighth off Travis Harper (3-7), but Hall connected with two outs against Shigetoshi Hasegawa (1-1).
It was only the fifth time Hasegawa has allowed a run in 53 appearances this year.
``I've made mistakes during the season all the time,'' Hasegawa said. ``Today, I thought it was only one pitch, and he hit that one.''
A 10-mph wind was blowing from the northwest, unfurling the flags above left field. For the first time in four months, the green and yellow ``Athletics'' banner was displayed on the first pole among the AL West teams.
``They were eight games back of us, so things can happen quickly,'' Seattle manager Bob Melvin said. ``We need to find a way to turn it around.''
Lance Carter pitched the ninth for his 22nd save in 28 chances.
Since joining the AL in 1998, the Devil Rays have won 13 series against first-place teams. This was the fourth time they've knocked a front-running club from its perch.
``We beat a contending team, but we're trying to beat everybody,'' Hall said. ``We're not trying to pick and choose. We're trying to win every game.''
Athletics 6, Orioles 4
At Oakland, Calif., Adam Melhuse hit a three-run homer and John Halama pitched into the seventh inning as the Athletics won their sixth straight, sweeping Baltimore.
Scott Hatteberg led off Oakland's four-run first inning with a homer against Rodrigo Lopez (6-9). Mark Ellis later added an RBI triple as the AL West-leading A's cruised to their 10th win in 12 games _ and their sixth straight victory over Baltimore this season.
Halama (3-4) won for the first time since May 8. The left-hander was solid in his second start in place of injured ace Mark Mulder.
Keith Foulke got his AL-leading 35th save in 40 chances.
Yankees 7, White Sox 5
At New York, Mike Mussina made sure the Yankees didn't get blown out by Chicago again.
New York scored five runs in the first inning off rookie Neal Cotts (1-1) and went on to win the finale of a three-game series between division leaders.
New York, pummeled by a combined 24-4 in the first two games, headed to Boston for a weekend series with a 4 1/2-game lead in the AL East.
Mussina (15-7) won for the fifth time in six decisions, giving up three runs and eight hits in six innings.
Mariano Rivera got four outs for his 29th save in 35 chances.
Carl Everett had four hits and three RBIs for Chicago.
Twins 6, Angels 1
At Anaheim, Calif., Jacque Jones hit a two-run homer, leading Kyle Lohse and Minnesota over the Angels.
Matthew LeCroy and Luis Rivas also drove in two runs apiece for the Twins, who moved within 1 1/2 games of the AL Central lead.
Lohse (11-10) went 6 2-3 innings and won for the fifth time in six starts. Ramon Ortiz (15-11) allowed five runs _ three earned _ in seven-plus innings.
Indians 8, Tigers 3
At Cleveland, rookie Jody Gerut homered twice off Jeremy Bonderman (6-18) and drove in a career-high five runs.
Detroit lost for the 99th time and must sweep a three-game weekend series at home against the White Sox to avoid losing 100 games before September.
Royals 6, Rangers 5, 11 innings
At Kansas City, Mike Sweeney's single in the 11th put Kansas City back on top of the AL Central, as the Royals overcame two homers by Alex Rodriguez to beat Texas.
A-Rod's two solo shots tied him with Barry Bonds for the major league lead with 39 homers.
After Joe Randa led off the 11th with a single off Erasmo Ramirez (3-1), Sweeney punched the ball up the middle to give Kansas City a three-game sweep and move the Royals back atop the AL Central by .0005 percentage points over the Chicago White Sox.
D.J. Carrasco (6-4) pitched two hitless innings for the win.