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Tanaka, now 9-1, cements status as Yankees ace

AP, Kyodo

In a season full of bumps for the New York Yankees, there has been one sure thing. Namely, Masahiro Tanaka.

Tanaka tamed the highest-scoring team in the majors and the Yankees stopped a four-game skid, beating Oakland 2-1 Thursday and ending the Athletics’ five-game winning streak.

Masahiro Tanaka (9-1) battled through six innings of one-run ball. He scattered five hits, giving up his only run on a first-inning solo homer to John Jaso. The other four hits, all singles, never amounted to a serious threat, but Oakland’s lineup wore Tanaka down with long at-bats, especially in the fourth and fifth innings which ate up 26 pitches each.

The Japanese ace was more efficient in an 11-pitch sixth inning, his last before leaving the game at the 104-pitch mark with four strikeouts and a walk. His ninth win of the season snapped a four-game losing streak for the Yankees, currently third in the AL East.

“It was a tough game,” Tanaka said. “I don’t think it was my best performance for the season, but given the fact that our team was in a bit of a slump and we were facing one of the best teams in the league right now, I’m really happy that I was able to contribute in the team’s win.”

New York manager Joe Girardi called it “a gritty performance on (Tanaka’s) part.”

“(The Oakland lineup) is good at grinding out at-bats,” Girardi added. “They are tough outs and they make you work. But (Tanaka) never let up — he kept going at them and going at them, and he ended up getting the big outs he needed to get.

“It’s a big win. It’s maybe his biggest performance for us (yet).”

With the game in the hands of the Yankees bullpen for the final three innings, Ichiro Suzuki — who entered the game as a pinch runner in the seventh and stayed in at right field — made a key defensive play in the eighth.

Reliever Adam Warren had surrendered back to back singles to Coco Crisp and Jaso to open the inning, and with one out Brandon Moss hit what would have been a run-scoring liner into the gap if not for Ichiro’s sliding grab.

Blue Jays 7, Tigers 3

In Detroit, Juan Francisco and Brett Lawrie hit consecutive home runs in the sixth inning off Justin Verlander, and Toronto completed a three-game sweep of the Tigers.

The AL East-leading Blue Jays have won 19 of 23.

Rangers 8, Orioles 6

In Arlington, Texas, Rougned Odor had a leadoff single in the seventh and scored the tiebreaking run with the help of two errors by Baltimore shortstop J.J. Hardy and the Rangers avoided a three-game sweep with a win.

Astros 8, Angels 5

In Houston, Jose Altuve and George Springer drove in two runs each during the Astros’ four-run eighth as the hosts pulled away to beat Los Angeles.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Giants 6, Reds 1

In Cincinnati, left-hander Madison Bumgarner got his career-high sixth straight win, and San Francisco beat the Reds, taking a series in Cincinnati for the first time in five years.

The Giants moved a season-high 18 games over .500 with its 11th win in 14 games.

Nationals 4, Phillies 2

In Washington, Doug Fister kept himself and his club on a roll, allowing two runs and four hits over seven innings as the Nationals capped a sweep.

Cubs 7, Mets 4

In Chicago, Anthony Rizzo hit a tiebreaking homer, Travis Wood went deep and drove in three runs, and the Cubs beat New York to complete a three-game sweep.

Diamondbacks 12, Rockies 7

In Denver, Paul Goldschmidt, Miguel Montero and Chris Owings homered as Arizona reached double digits in hits and runs against Colorado again and completed a sweep.

INTERLEAGUE

Royals 3, Cardinals 2

In Kansas City, Yordano Ventura threw six innings in his return from a sore elbow, and the Royals ended a string of eight straight home losses to their in-state rivals.

Kansas City’s Norichika Aoki was 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored.

Marlins 11, Rays 6

In St. Petersburg, Florida, J.T. Realmuto had three RBIs in his major league debut, Marcell Ozuna homered and drove in four runs, and Miami handed Tampa Bay its 10th consecutive loss.

Brewers 8, Twins 5

In Minneapolis, Carlos Gomez hit a three-run homer against his former team to spark Milwaukee’s comeback.