Hideki Irabu was pitching so well that he was too eager to get back to the mound.

In what he called his best performance yet for the New York Yankees, Irabu threw a three-hitter to once again defeat the Detroit Tigers, 6-0, last night at Yankee Stadium.

Irabu made just one mistake in his second career shutout. Prompted by a playful Orlando Hernandez, he bounded out of the dugout to pitch the fifth inning and took a couple of steps onto the field before realizing the Yankees were still batting with only two outs.

"He was a little embarrassed," Manager Joe Torre said.

Irabu (5-3) was in complete command otherwise. He won his fourth straight decision overall, and improved to 5-0 with a 1.35 career earned run average against the Tigers.

"That was not just winning a game, that was total dominance," Torre said. "He was great."

Irabu has not lost in six starts since May 25. Once an outcast among the Yankees, he has blossomed into one of their best pitchers.

"Yes, I think that was my best," he said through an interpreter. "There are going to be good days and bad days. The thing I want to do is when things go bad, I want to get them back to when they were good."

Paul O'Neill provided all the support Irabu needed. He hit a solo home run in the second inning and had an RBI single in a five-run fifth -- he also broke his batting helmet into pieces after an upsetting at-bat.

The Yankees won for the eighth time in nine games despite giving Chili Davis and Scott Brosius a rest.

DEVIL RAYS 12, RED SOX 3: Mike DiFelice drove in a career-high five runs as visiting Tampa Bay pounded Boston pitching for the second straight game.

DiFelice and Paul Sorrento, who broke out of a 1-for-18 slump, each went 3 for 4 in the 16-hit attack as Tampa Bay won its fifth straight road game, tying the record for the two-year-old team. The win also improved the Devil Rays' record to 6-3 over the Red Sox, who went 9-3 against them last year. Tampa Bay, which had 14 hits in an 11-10 win in 10 innings Wednesday night, swept the two-game series.

"We aren't making any excuses," Red Sox Manager Jimy Williams said. "They are swinging the bats well and just beat us."

INDIANS 7, TWINS 5: Bartolo Colon persevered through six innings and finally got his seventh win when host Cleveland rallied for six runs in the sixth.

Colon (7-3) gave up a season-high 10 hits -- many of them soft singles -- but hung around long enough to get his first victory since May 17 as the Indians rallied in the sixth off reliever Hector Carrasco (0-1).

David Justice had a two-run single and Richie Sexson drove in two more with a triple in the sixth to help the Indians overcame a 4-1 deficit. Cleveland, which leads the majors in runs, has scored five runs or more in an inning 17 times this season.

ATHLETICS 5, MARINERS 4: Tony Phillips's RBI single in the ninth inning lifted host Oakland over Seattle, which had rallied for three runs in the eighth to tie the game.

Ramon Hernandez singled with one out in the ninth and Ryan Christenson was hit by a pitch from Jose Paniagua (5-7), who came in to start the inning. Phillips then lined a single into the right field corner to win the game.

WHITE SOX 6, ROYALS 2: Craig Wilson hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh inning and Chris Singleton greeted Jeff Montgomery with a three-run double, leading visiting Chicago.

Kansas City's bullpen failed to hold a lead for the second straight night, and the Royals lost for the fourth time in five games. In losing two of three to the White Sox, Royals relievers allowed 10 runs, 14 hits and four walks in nine innings.