ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. David Ortiz, Mike Lowell, Jason Bay, Jason Varitek, Kevin Youkilis and, finally, Jacoby Ellsbury.
Home run by home run, the surging Boston Red Sox pulled closer to first place in the AL East with a 13-5 victory over the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays and All-Star Scott Kazmir on Monday night.
The defending World Series champions won for the first time in seven games at Tropicana Field this season, climbing within percentage points (.002) of the Rays for the first time in two months.
The Rays (88-60) went 21-7 in August and were a season-high 5 1/2 games up on Boston heading into September. They're 4-9 this month, with six of the losses coming against the Red Sox and Yankees, who took two of three from Tampa Bay over the weekend.
The Red Sox (89-61), on the other hand, have won three straight and 10 of 14 in September to get as close to the lead as they've been since mid-July, when they erased a five-game deficit in a week to pull ahead by a half game at the All-Star break.
Ortiz, who finished with four RBIs, hit a three-run homer in the first inning after Kazmir (11-7) threw nine straight balls to begin the game. Two batters later, Lowell hit a solo shot for a 4-0 lead.
The Red Sox added seven more runs in the fourth, helping Daisuke Matsuzaka (17-2) become the first Japanese-born pitcher to win 17 games in a season. Hideo Nomo won 16 games for the Los Angeles Dodgers three times (1996, 2002, 2003).
Bay and Varitek homered in the fourth off Kazmir, who allowed nine runs and six hits in three-plus innings his shortest outing of the season. The four homers he yielded were a career high.
YANKEES 4, WHITE SOX 2: At New York, Mariano Rivera moved into second place on the career saves list and the Yankees put a small crimp in Chicago's postseason plans. Beginning its final week at Yankee Stadium barring an incredible playoff surge New York got a two-run homer from Xavier Nady in the second inning and a tiebreaking double by pinch-hitter Wilson Betemit in the seventh. The White Sox, who still lead the AL Central by 1 1/2 games over Minnesota, wasted six strong innings by Mark Buehrle and DeWayne Wise's two-run shot off Alfredo Aceves.
INDIANS 3, TWINS 1: At Cleveland, Scott Lewis pitched six shutout innings in his second career start and the Indians beat Minnesota. Lewis (2-0) has yet to allow a run in 14 innings since being called up from the minors Sept. 7. The left-hander allowed three hits and two walks. Minnesota remained 1 1/2 games behind the Chicago White Sox and will play eight of its final 12 games in the division, where they are 39-25. Kelly Shoppach hit his 21st homer in the fourth inning off Kevin Slowey (12-10) to put Cleveland ahead 1-0. Grady Sizemore singled with one out in the fifth and scored on a two-out homer by Shin-Soo Choo to make it 3-0.
ROYALS 3, MARINERS 0: At Kansas City, Mo., Kyle Davies matched a career high with eight strikeouts in eight innings and combined with closer Joakim Soria on a four-hitter, lifting Kansas City over struggling Seattle. Davies (7-7) didn't allow a hit until Jose Lopez lined a high fastball into right for a single leading off the fifth, and he had Seattle swinging through off-speed pitches, striking out four of five batters in the second and third innings. Soria worked a perfect ninth for his 38th save in 41 chances, giving the Royals their fourth straight victory. Seattle starter Carlos Silva (4-15) allowing two runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Rangers 11, Tigers 8: At Arlington, Texas, rookie Taylor Teagarden had his first career grand slam and a career-high five RBIs, Michael Young hit a tiebreaking single and the Texas Rangers beat the Tigers. Detroit carried an 8-7 lead into the eighth, but Texas took the lead against Kyle Farnsworth (2-3) on Teagarden's RBI double and Young's go-ahead single. Marlon Byrd's two-run triple later in the eighth extended Texas' advantage to 11-8, sending Detroit to its fifth straight defeat.
CUBS 6, ASTROS 1: At Milwaukee, Ted Lilly came close to following Carlos Zambrano's no-hitter with one of his own. Lilly pitched no-hit ball until Mark Loretta's seventh-inning single, and the Chicago Cubs beat the Astros 6-1 Monday to sweep a two-game series moved from Houston by Hurricane Ike. Hard-charging Houston had won 14 of 15 coming into the series, but the Cubs left the Astros 2 1/2 games back of Milwaukee and Philadelphia, which share the NL wild-card lead. Aramis Ramirez's first-inning sacrifice fly and Jim Edmonds' homer off Brian Moehler (11-7) in the fifth built a 2-0 lead, and Derrek Lee and Geovany Soto hit two-run homers in the sixth.
DODGERS 8, PIRATES 2: At Pittsburgh, Hiroki Kuroda allowed three hits over seven shutout innings for his first road win in more than two months and Manny Ramirez had three more hits, leading surging Los Angeles past Pittsburgh. With Juan Pierre homering for the first time in nearly two years, the Dodgers rebounded from a 1-0, 10-inning loss at Colorado on Sunday for their 13th victory in 15 games a surge that has given them a five-game lead in the NL West over Arizona. The Pirates swept three games from St. Louis over the weekend, but did nothing against Kuroda, who hadn't won in six road starts since beating Houston 4-1 on July 2. Kuroda (9-10) permitted one runner to reach third and yielded only one hit, Nyjer Morgan's double in the sixth, after the first.
NATIONALS 7, METS 2: At Washington, John Lannan limited New York to one hit over seven innings, Anderson Hernandez delivered a two-run single off a tiring Pedro Martinez, and the Nationals beat the fading-again Mets. The Mets' lead over idle Philadelphia in the NL East fell to a half-game; New York held a 3 1/2-game cushion as recently as Wednesday. The Mets have 13 games left, Philadelphia has 12. Last season, the Mets led the Phillies by seven games with only 17 to play before a historic collapse ceded the division title and kept New York out of the playoffs altogether.
PADRES 11, ROCKIES 5: At Denver, Adrian Gonzalez homered and drove in four runs, Wade LeBlanc earned his first career win and the San Diego Padres beat the Colorado Rockies. Brian Giles had three hits and rookie Matt Antonelli hit his first career home run for the Padres, who had seven doubles in their 18-hit attack. Drew Macias also homered for the Padres, who had lost five of their last six games. Gonzalez, who had three hits, is third in the NL with 109 RBIs and tied St. Louis' Albert Pujols and Ryan Ludwick for fifth in home runs with 33.
DIAMONDBACKS 3, GIANTS 1: At Phoenix, Adam Dunn homered with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning to lead the Arizona Diamondbacks past San Francisco. Justin Upton added his 13th home run for the Diamondbacks, who won for just the second time in 10 games to remain 4 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West.