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Slumping Red Sox fall from AL perch

THE Texas Rangers handed the slumping Boston Red Sox their fourth loss in a row with a 4-2 victory on Tuesday, opening the door for the New York Yankees to take top spot in the American League East.

Texas rookie starter Tommy Hunter (2-1) gave up only one run over six innings for the win, while Boston starter and Texas native Josh Beckett (11-4) was denied his 101st career win.

"That was great," Rangers outfielder Marlon Byrd said. "Beckett was Beckett - just like he always is. To beat him, you have to have your pitcher go out there and match him, and that's what Tommy did."

Boston's loss, coupled with the Yankees' 6-4 triumph over Baltimore, dropped Boston a game behind New York in the AL East. They had been tied for first before Tuesday's games.

The loss was the Red Sox's fourth in a row while the Yankees have won five consecutive.

Elsewhere in the AL, it was: Angels 8, Royals 5 (first game); Angels 10, Royals 2 (second game); Tigers 9, Mariners 7; Indians 2, Blue Jays 1; Rays 3, White Sox 2; and Twins 3, Athletics 2 (in 10 innings).

In the National League, it was: Phillies 4, Cubs 1 (in 13 innings); Brewers 2, Pirates 0; Nationals 4, Mets 0; Braves 8, Giants 1; Astros 11, Cardinals 6; Diamondbacks 6, Rockies 5; Marlins 3, Padres 2; and Dodgers 12, Reds 3.

In Arlington, Texas, Hank Blalock put the Rangers on the road to their third consecutive victory with a two-run single in the first inning.

Kevin Youkilis brought the Red Sox within a run with a sixth-inning double, but Texas came back with solo runs in the seventh and eighth innings.

Mike Lowell added Boston's second run with a single in the ninth.

Hunter struck out two and walked one while allowing four hits. Three relievers limited the Red Sox to one run and one hit.

Hunter had been shelled in an August 2008 game in Boston, giving up nine runs on seven hits in less than two innings.

The difference, he said, was his ability to throw a variety of pitches.

"I have four pitches (now)," Hunter said. "Last year, I had just one and a half pitches. I didn't even have my fastball, because it was up in the zone. I threw a lot of changeups (tonight). They didn't see that last year. When you throw four pitches for strikes, you do pretty well."

Beckett was tagged for four runs and seven hits in a complete game performance. He struck out seven and walked only one. "I didn't make very good pitches," Beckett said. "This one definitely falls on me."

But his teammates did not see it that way, especially after Beckett settled down after the two-run hit to Blalock, retiring 14 batters in a row before Andruw Jones doubled in the seventh inning.

"We have to do a better job," said Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. "This is an offensive ballpark. We have to score more runs."

In New York, pitcher Sergio Mitre earned his first win in two years and Robinson Cano hit a two-run homer as the Yankees beat the Orioles for their fifth straight victory.

Alex Rodriguez had a key two-run single for the Yankees, who had just six hits. The Yankees are a major league-best 43-22 since Rodriguez came off the disabled list on May 8 following hip surgery.

The Yankees (56-37) improved to a season-best 19 games over .500.

Mitre (1-0) was called up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre before the game. He allowed four runs, three earned, and eight hits over 5 2/3 innings in his first major league start since September 15, 2007.


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