Red Sox sweep fading Blue Jays

Friday, July 11th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

As the All-Star break nears, the Boston Red Sox are showing they plan to stay in the AL East race all season.

The Toronto Blue Jays, on the other hand, are fading fast.

David Ortiz and Kevin Millar hit consecutive homers as visiting Boston completed a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays with a 7-1 victory Thursday night.

``This is a big sweep. This team swept us the last time we were here,'' Millar said. ``They played great in June, but they're not swinging the bats like they were before.''

The Red Sox shaved two games off New York's lead in the AL East the past three days, leaving them only two back.

The Blue Jays, who won nine of 10 during one stretch in June, have dropped 10 of 12 to fall eight games out of first in the division. They are six behind Boston in the wild-card race.

With the Yankees coming into town Friday for the last series before the All-Star break, Toronto needs to turn things around quickly if it hopes to remain within striking distance.

``We're in a bit of a slump. We've gone away from our approach,'' Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca said. ``We might be mentally exhausted. We played so well for so long. Maybe it took its toll.''

In other AL games, it was: Cleveland 3, New York 2 in 10 innings; Detroit 1, Chicago 0; Oakland 5, Tampa Bay 2; Anaheim 7, Kansas City 1; Texas 9, Minnesota 4; and Baltimore 4, Seattle 1.

Ramiro Mendoza (3-3) won his second straight start and Bill Mueller went 4-for-4 for the Red Sox, who lead the majors in batting average, runs, hits, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.

The Blue Jays, who led the majors in those categories last month, have lost the first three of 12 straight games against the Red Sox and Yankees.

Toronto starter Cory Lidle (10-8) dropped his fourth straight start, giving up seven runs on nine hits and four walks in five-plus innings.

Brandon Lyon, Mike Timlin and Chad Fox combined for four shutout innings out of the bullpen. Boston's maligned relievers have pitched 13 1-3 scoreless innings the last four games.

``We've all settled down to our roles and everybody is pitching lights out,'' Fox said.

Vernon Wells hit his 22nd homer for Toronto.

Indians 3, Yankees 2, 10 innings

At Cleveland, rookie Jody Gerut's RBI single off Sterling Hitchcock (0-2) scored Coco Crisp in the 10th.

Ben Broussard homered for the Indians, who won two of three and took their first home season series from the Yankees since Jacobs Field opened in 1994.

Milton Bradley caused a stir by bumping Jason Giambi as Cleveland improved to just 17-31 against New York at the Jake.

Athletics 5, Devil Rays 2

At Oakland, Calif., Mark Mulder (12-6) pitched a five-hitter for his AL-leading seventh complete game.

The left-hander was briefly interrupted with two outs in the eighth when a female fan came over the Tampa Bay dugout, did a cartwheel across the first-base line and stood on the pitcher's mound.

She motioned to Mulder, who remained behind the mound. The woman was escorted off the field by security guards without further incident.

Eric Chavez drove in two runs for the A's, and Rocco Baldelli homered for Tampa Bay.

Orioles 4, Mariners 1

At Seattle, Sidney Ponson pitched his fourth complete game of the season, and Luis Matos and David Segui homered for Baltimore.

Ponson (12-5) tied Mulder, Toronto's Roy Halladay and Atlanta's Russ Ortiz for the most wins in the majors.

Ponson threw only 89 pitches in a seven-hitter, winning for the 11th time in 14 starts, and the Orioles won a series at Safeco Field for the first time. They are 3-16 since the Seattle ballpark opened in mid-1999.

Freddy Garcia (9-8) pitched into the eighth inning but lost for the second consecutive time since winning six straight starts.

Rangers 9, Twins 4

At Arlington, Texas, Juan Gonzalez homered twice, including a three-run shot in the first inning, and the Rangers hit four home runs to complete a three-game sweep of stumbling Minnesota.

Michael Young added a three-run homer and rookie Mark Teixeira also connected for the Rangers, who've won four in a row, six of seven and 11 of 16. John Thomson (6-9) allowed two runs in seven innings.

The Twins have lost five straight and 12 of 17. Rick Reed (4-9) gave up three homers, seven runs and eight hits over 4 1-3 innings.

Angels 7, Royals 1

At Anaheim, Calif., Garret Anderson hit a pair of two-run homers, and Adam Kennedy also homered for the Angels.

Aaron Sele (6-6), still limited to five innings per start by manager Mike Scioscia, won his third straight outing.

Tigers 1, White Sox 0

At Detroit, Nate Cornejo came within three outs of his first career shutout, leading the Tigers to their first home sweep in a year.

Detroit wrapped up its second sweep of the season, also winning three games in Baltimore May 5-7. The Tigers' last sweep at home came July 23-25, 2002, against Kansas City.

Cornejo (4-7) won for the first time in 11 starts since May 11. Detroit scored in the first off All-Star Esteban Loaiza (11-5) on Kevin Witt's RBI single.