Red Sox ready for Yankees after Schilling wins 20th

Friday, September 17th 2004, 6:49 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Curt Schilling's 20th victory of the season was just a start for the Boston Red Sox.

Schilling and the Red Sox beat Tampa Bay 11-4 Thursday night, moving within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees in the American League East Division entering their three-game series in New York.

``This is the time to shine,'' Johnny Damon said. ``I think this is the best assembled team in the league and it's time to show it.''

The Red Sox and Yankees have six meetings left _ three in New York this weekend and three in Boston next weekend.

Schilling (20-6) became Major League Baseball's first 20-game winner this season, allowing four runs and eight hits in 7 2-3 innings. He struck out six and walked two, his first walks in six starts.

Damon and Kevin Millar each homered and drove in four runs, and Boston scored at least nine runs for the fifth time in Schilling's last six starts. The right-hander has won seven straight starts for the first time in his career.

In other American League games, it was: Oakland 5, Texas 4; Minnesota 10, Chicago 1; Baltimore 9, Toronto 5; Detroit 6, Cleveland 4; and Anaheim 6, Seattle 1.

Schilling, who has reached 20 victories three times in four years, won his career-high seventh straight start and improved to 11-1 at home in his first season with Boston. His focus is on his team's drive toward the playoffs.

``In a couple of weeks, hopefully, it will get a lot better,'' he said.

Boston won for the 24th time in 29 games, taking a 6-1 lead against Mark Hendrickson (8-15) and breaking it open on seventh-inning homers by Millar and Damon off Bobby Webb.

On Friday night, the Red Sox will send Bronson Arroyo (9-9) to the mound to face Orlando Hernandez (8-0) in the opener against the Yankees.

``This is a time you get to enjoy playing the game. It's like a postseason atmosphere even before you get to the postseason,'' New York's Derek Jeter said.

For a while, it appeared these games wouldn't matter _ especially when the Red Sox trailed by 10 1/2 games on Aug. 15.

``We have played ourselves into a position where this is a huge series,'' Boston manager Terry Francona said.

Athletics 5, Rangers 4

At Oakland, California, Texas starter Kenny Rogers lost at the Coliseum for the first time in more than 10 years, with Bobby Crosby's three-run double in the fifth inning leading Oakland.

Rogers (16-8) was 18-0 in 35 appearances in Oakland since Aug. 7, 1994.

Alfonso Soriano was hurt in an awkward headfirst slide while stealing third base in the eighth inning. His left foot got caught under his right leg, and he left the game.

Rich Harden (10-6) allowed six hits while improving to 7-1 since the MLB All-Star Game.

Three Oakland relievers preserved the lead after Harden left in the seventh. Octavio Dotel stranded pinch-runner Manny Alexander on third base in the eighth, then pitched the ninth for his 21st save.

Twins 10, White Sox 1

At Minneapolis, Kyle Lohse pitched seven sharp innings, Michael Cuddyer went 3-for-4 with a homer and Minnesota won its ninth straight to reduce the magic number for winning the Central Division to four.

Lohse (8-11) gave up one run, four hits and one walk.

Minnesota broke the game open in the third. Jose Offerman drove in a run with a groundout, Cristian Guzman had an RBI double, and Cuddyer followed with a two-run shot to left.

Chicago's Jon Garland (10-11) was the loser.

Orioles 9, Blue Jays 5

At Toronto, Rafael Palmeiro homered and Rodrigo Lopez (13-8) won his third straight start for Baltimore.

Vernon Wells hit two home runs for Toronto, including a two-run shot in the third that landed two rows into the fifth deck of SkyDome.

Palmeiro hit his 547th homer in the ninth, moving within one of Mike Schmidt for 10th place on the career list.

Miguel Batista (10-12) allowed seven runs, five hits and four walks in just two innings.

Tigers 6, Indians 4

At Cleveland, Eric Munson and Omar Infante each hit two-run homers and Detroit's bullpen stayed busy all night.

Gary Knotts and five relievers kept Cleveland at bay after Munson homered in the second off C.C. Sabathia (11-10) and Infante connected in a three-run fifth.

Angels 6, Mariners 1

At Seattle, Anaheim broke open a one-run game with four in an eighth inning that featured three Seattle errors _ two by Gold Glove second baseman Bret Boone.

The Angels remained two games behind Oakland in the West Division and 5 1/2 games behind Boston in the wild-card race.

Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-2 and was intentionally walked twice, remaining at 233 hits in his chase of George Sisler's single-season record of 257.

Aaron Sele (9-3) allowed a run on five hits in five innings. Jamie Moyer (6-12) allowed two earned runs and four hits over 7 1-3 innings.