ROBINSON CANO, Curtis Granderson, Russell Martin and Mark Teixeira homered in a nine-run second inning, and the New York Yankees routed the visiting Boston Red Sox, 10-2, Monday night to open a one-game lead over Baltimore in the AL East with two games to play.
Baltimore lost at Tampa Bay and dropped into second place, prompting cheers from the crowd when the final score was posted before the ninth inning. The Yankees, who clinched their 17th playoff berth in 18 years on Sunday, would ensure their 13th division title in 17 years by sweeping the three-game series against the Red Sox.
"There's a lot of teams that would love to be in our position right now," Teixeira said. "You can count all of the things that have gone wrong but, hey, we're right here where we want to be. And if we keep winning, we'll be division champions and have a chance to make a run in the playoffs."
New York tied its record for home runs in an inning, achieving the feat for the third time. The offense backed CC Sabathia (15-6), who allowed two runs and four hits in eight innings with seven strikeouts and a walk.
Making his third straight strong start, Sabathia stayed in for 103 pitches rather than come out with New York ahead in a laugher. Manager Joe Girardi wouldn't say before the game whether he'd consider starting his ace on short rest Friday if New York fails to win the division and winds up in the new one-game, wild-card playoff.
Cano homered leading off the second against Clay Buchholz, a drive off the blue facing below the glass-enclosed bar behind Monument Park in center, and hit a two-run double later in the inning. He added another double in the fourth.
Granderson hit a two-run, second-deck homer to right, and Martin followed with a solo shot off the top of the wall above the scoreboard in right-center, a drive upheld after a video review.
Teixeira, back in the lineup for the first time since Sept. 8 following his recovery from a strained left calf, greeted Alfredo Aceves with a two-run drive into the second deck in right. Nick Swisher nearly followed with another homer, hitting a foul drive deep down the rightfield line before doubling.
Even slumping Alex Rodriguez got in on the offense, hitting a sacrifice fly to end a streak of 11 games without an RBI. He tied Stan Musial for fifth place on the career list at 1,950.
In other games *
At St. Petersburg, Fla., Alex Cobb (11-9) allowed two hits over seven innings, helping the Tampa Bay Rays keep their slim playoff hopes alive with a 5-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Ben Zobrist hit his 20th homer and Chris Giminez had a two-run double off Wei-Yin Chen as the Rays pulled away from a 1-1 tie.
* At Cleveland, Hector Santiago (4-1) allowed just one hit in seven shutout innings as the Chicago White Sox defeated the Indians, 11-0, but were eliminated from playoff contention when the Detroit Tigers beat the Kansas City Royals.
The White Sox scored four runs in the sixth off Corey Kluber (2-5).
* At Kansas City, Gerald Laird hit a three-run double in the sixth and Jhonny Peralta and Miguel Cabrera each homered as the Detroit Tigers defeated the Royals, 6-3, to clinch the AL Central title.
* At Toronto, Anthony Gose singled home the winning run in the 10th inning as the Jays rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins, 6-5.
Baltimore rightfielder Nick Markakis had his broken left thumb examined and it was determined that surgically inserted pins will remain in place for another week. Manager Buck Showalter said Markakis' thumb will be in a splint for 2 weeks after the pins are removed.
Markakis left a game on Sept. 8 after being hit by a pitch from New York Yankees lefthander CC Sabathia.
* Texas starting pitcher Derek Holland said the homophobic slur that appeared on his Twitter account during Sunday night's game with the Los Angeles Angels was the result of a hacker, according to a FoxSportsSouthwest.com report.
"I apologize for whoever it was that decided to hack into my Twitter and do that," Holland said. "But I can't sit here and be responsible for that. I can't control what people do."
In other news, Rangers righthanded reliever Mike Adams was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome, which is a condition where the rib bone pushes against a nerve and can cause numbness or pain in the arm or shoulder.
Adams said he hopes to pitch through the pain in the playoffs.