Yankees 11, Orioles 3

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BALTIMORE (AP)—All thoughts about Boston can wait. For now, the New York Yankees are focused solely on beating the Baltimore Orioles.

They’re doing a pretty good job of it, too.

After enduring two rain delays totaling nearly 2 hours, the Yankees regained sole possession of first place in the AL East with an 11-3 rout of the Orioles on Monday night.

The victory moved the Yankees a half-game ahead of the Red Sox, whose home game against Toronto was rained out.

“I’m not really worried about Boston right now,” Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. “This is a big series. We’ve got to play well against Baltimore.”

New York has six games remaining—three against the stumbling Orioles, who have lost a season-high nine straight, and three in Boston to finish the season.

If the Orioles keep playing as they have lately, the Yankees can expect to bring some momentum into Fenway Park this weekend. New York has won seven straight against Baltimore, including five over an eight-day span.

“We control our destiny. If we win all our games, we win. That’s the only way you can approach this,” Yankees manager Joe Torre said. “We can’t be looking for help from anybody else. Sure, if we get it, we appreciate it, but we can’t go in expecting it.”

Boston must play a day-night doubleheader on Tuesday, forcing the Red Sox to shuffle their pitching rotation in the middle of a frenzied pennant race.

Advantage, Yankees.

“Well, they’re playing at home,” Torre said. “They’re the best club in baseball at home, so you don’t think about them. You think about us.”

Randy Johnson (16-8) pitched six innings of shutout ball, Jason Giambi homered to cap a six-run fourth and New York got 12 hits in building an 11-0 lead against the hapless Orioles.

“We’re taking every game like it’s October, because it is for us,” said Alex Rodriguez, who went 2-for-3 with three RBIs.

New York has won seven of eight and 13 of 15 to move a season-high 28 games over .500 (92-64). After starting the season with 19 losses in 30 games, the Yankees are within two games of the Chicago White Sox in the race for the best record in the AL.

And the Red Sox?

“Tonight we posted another win,” Rodriguez said. “Now they know where we’re at.”

In first place, looking down at Boston.

“We’ll think about them Friday,” Jeter said.

After stranding four runners in the first three innings, the Yankees sent 10 batters to the plate in the fourth against Rodrigo Lopez (14-12). With two outs and the bases loaded, Jeter drew a walk to force in a run and Rodriguez followed with a two-run double.

That brought up Giambi, who snapped a 1-for-20 slump by hitting Lopez’s next pitch to right for a three-run homer. It was his 31st of the year, and first since Sept. 13.

New York added five runs in the sixth in an uprising aided by four walks and an error by third baseman Melvin Mora.

Johnson left after an effortless performance in which he yielded four hits, struck out two, walked one and allowed one runner past second base. The left-hander, who also beat Baltimore last Wednesday, is 5-0 in seven starts since Aug. 21.

“It was nice to be able to get out of there and not have to go seven, eight, nine innings and throw all those pitches,” Johnson said.

Ed Rogers hit a two-run homer off Yankees reliever Alan Embree in the ninth for his first major league hit. That was pretty much the lone highlight for the Orioles.

“It wasn’t a good night, plain and simple,” interim manager Sam Perlozzo said. “I’m glad it’s over. I can’t wait until tomorrow.”

The start of the game was delayed by rain for 1:26. Then, after Jeter singled, Rodriguez walked and Giambi hit a fly ball, there was another rain delay of 25 minutes.

For the Yankees, it was worth the wait.

Notes

The game was a makeup of a June 29 rainout. … New York clinched at least a tie of the season series; the Yankees are 9-6 with three games left. … Baltimore fell to 19-30 under Perlozzo. … The Orioles are 23-46 since the All-Star break, a .333 winning percentage that is the worst in the majors.

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