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BASEBALL PLAYOFF RACES

Yankees maintain AL East lead

CC Sabathia, Ichiro Suzuki come up big for Yankees, who are trying to hold off Orioles. Tigers pass White Sox.

September 26, 2012|By Jim Peltz
  • Yankees starter CC Sabathia struck out 10 batters in eight innings Wednesday.
Yankees starter CC Sabathia struck out 10 batters in eight innings Wednesday. (Hannah Foslien / Getty Images )

The New York Yankees still lead the American League East with one week left in the regular season, and two reasons are the resurgence of CC Sabathia and Ichiro Suzuki.

Sabathia struck out 10 batters in eight innings for his first win in six starts, and Suzuki had two more hits Wednesday as the Yankees cruised past the Minnesota Twins, 8-2.

But the Orioles kept the Yankees in sight. Baltimore slugged seven home runs — including two each by Chris Davis and Manny Machado — to crush the Toronto Blue Jays, 12-2, and remain 11/2 games behind New York.

"We're in a race," Sabathia said. "We know it's going to be tough. So you want to go out and do well every time out."

It was questionable whether Suzuki, at 38, would give the Yankees a lift when the two-time batting champion was traded to New York from the Seattle Mariners on July 23. At the time, he was batting .261.

But since moving to a pennant contender from a last-place team, Suzuki has batted .328 — and .426 in the last two weeks (20 for 47). He had five consecutive multi-hit games from Sept. 19 through Sept. 22.

In the AL Central, Detroit edged the Kansas City Royals, 5-4, to lift the Tigers into sole possession of first place, ahead of the Chicago White Sox, who lost to Cleveland, 6-4.

With the score tied, the Tigers' Jhonny Peralta hit a grounder that appeared tailor-made for an inning-ending double play in the eighth inning, but Andy Dirks' hard slide broke it up and enabled Don Kelly to score Detroit's go-ahead run.

"That's good old-fashioned baseball," Tigers Manager Jim Leyland said.

The Oakland Athletics used a five-run first inning to defeat the Texas Rangers, 9-3, and retain the second AL wild-card spot.

In the National League, the St. Louis Cardinals lost to the Houston Astros, 2-0, allowing the Dodgers and Milwaukee Brewers to climb to within 31/2 games of St. Louis for the second wild-card spot. The Brewers defeated the Cincinnati Reds, 8-1, behind pitcher Shaun Marcum and Ryan Braun's league-leading 41st homer.

"Great," Marcum said after seeing that the Cardinals had lost. "Can't leapfrog them if they don't lose."

james.peltz@latimes.com

Times wire services contributed to this report.

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