Max Scherzer has done more than just salvage his season.
He's helped the Detroit Tigers stay right behind the Chicago White Sox atop the American League Central.
Scherzer allowed four hits in eight scoreless innings, and the Tigers pulled within a game of first place with a 5-1 victory over the White Sox on Saturday night. After an awful start to 2012 — his earned-run average was 6.26 on May 15 — Scherzer has bounced back impressively. He's now won five straight starts, providing a dependable complement to ace Justin Verlander.
"I knew coming in tonight this was a huge start for us," Scherzer said. "We needed to win this game to get us back in the thick of things."
Detroit has taken the first two games of this series from the AL Central-leading White Sox and will send Verlander to the mound Sunday night to try for a sweep. Scherzer (15-6) struck out nine with one walk.
Delmon Young homered and tripled for the Tigers.
Francisco Liriano (5-11) allowed three runs, four hits and seven walks in four-plus innings. Chicago was swept in a three-game set in Detroit in July, momentarily ceding first place to the Tigers. Now the White Sox are in danger of being caught atop the division.
"There's a long way to go. You're still where you want to be," Chicago manager Robin Ventura said. "No use hanging your head. Still a lot worse places you could be."
Scherzer increased his strikeout total to 204, becoming the first pitcher to reach 200 this year. He and Liriano are two of the three pitchers who have struck out at least 15 in a game this season. The other is Chris Sale, Chicago's starter Sunday.
Scherzer has struck out at least eight in nine straight starts.
"He threw as good a performance as we've had thrown against us, just stuff-wise," Ventura said. "Looked like he was in and out and spotting his pitches."
NEW YORK — Shortstop J.J. Hardy's bases-loaded error let New York complete a seventh-inning comeback and the Yankees stung Baltimore to restore their AL East lead to three games.
Shut down all afternoon, the struggling Yankees rallied for three runs in the seventh against a suddenly shaky Baltimore bullpen. The streaking Orioles had won 13 straight one-run decisions before falling apart as the calendar turned to September.
Newly promoted Eduardo Nunez hit an RBI single with two outs that chased Wei-Yin Chen (12-8) and made it 3-2. Pedro Strop, one of baseball's best relievers, walked Ichiro Suzuki and then threw two quick strikes to Derek Jeter before walking him, forcing home the tying run.
Nick Swisher followed with a hard, one-hop grounder that ate up Hardy, who leads major league shortstops in fielding percentage, and the Yankees took the lead.
OAKLAND, Calif. — Coco Crisp hit a leadoff home run and finished a triple shy of the cycle to back A.J. Griffin's gem, and the surging Athletics beat visiting Boston for their season-high eighth straight win.
Brandon Inge's two-run double highlighted a four-run third inning against lefty Felix Doubront (10-7) and Chris Carter added his 13th homer to lead another overpowering A's victory. Oakland pounded Boston 20-2 on Friday to hand the franchise it's most lopsided loss in more than a decade.
Griffin (4-0) retired the first 14 batters until Jarrod Saltalamacchia's bunt single with the infield shifted. The rookie right-hander struck out five and walked none while giving up three hits in seven innings. Dustin Pedroia's two-out RBI single in the sixth was all Boston managed in its fifth straight loss.
SEATTLE — Mark Trumbo hit a two-run single in the eighth inning that helped hand Felix Hernandez his first loss in nearly three-months as visiting Los Angeles beat the Mariners.
Hernandez (13-6) lost for the first time since June 12. He entered this outing 9-0 with a 1.40 ERA over his previous 14 starts.
Mike Trout and Torii Hunter singled to open the eighth. Albert Pujols then hit a one-hopper to third baseman Kyle Seager, who couldn't corral it down for an error. That allowed Trout to score, tying the game 2-2, while Hunter and Pujols each moved into scoring position.
Kendrys Morales bounced out, and Trumbo then sent a hit through the left side as both runners scored easily.
CLEVELAND — Jeanmar Gomez and three Cleveland relievers combined to beat the visiting Rangers, and the Indians snapped a six-game losing streak.
Gomez worked 5 2/3 innings. Joe Smith, Esmil Rogers and Vinnie Pestano finished. Pestano allowed two hits over 1 1/3 innings for his first save.
Cleveland scored four runs in the first inning off Scott Feldman (6-11). The Indians are 42-24 when scoring four or more runs.
Twins 3, Royals 1 (Game 1)
Twins 8, Royals 7 (Game 2)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Joe Mauer hit a grand slam and Chris Parmelee added a three-run shot and Minnesota outlasted the Royals to complete a sweep of a doubleheader Saturday.
Justin Morneau drove in two runs and Minnesota rookie Cole De Vries beat the Royals 3-1 in the first game.
Mauer's grand slam in the second inning of the nightcap was the third of his career and the first by the Twins this year. Mauer's ninth home run came after Pedro Florimon's double was sandwiched around walks to Drew Butera and Ben Revere.
Parmelee homered in the first with Alexi Casilla and Josh Willingham aboard.
Luke Hochevar (7-13) lasted just 1 2/3 innings, the shortest outing of his career. Hochevar faced 14 batters, 10 reached (six hits and four walks) and eight scored before he was replaced by Everett Teaford, who threw 5 1/3 scoreless innings.