Jason Varitek's second home run of the game, a three-run shot in the eighth inning, gave the Boston Red Sox a 9-7 victory over the Mariners yesterday in Seattle.

"He's been very consistent all year long," Manager Jimy Williams said of Varitek. "He's become an outstanding catcher in the league. He's one of the most focused players I've seen in a long time."

Nomar Garciaparra went 4 for 5 with a homer and Varitek drove in five runs for Boston, which moved two games ahead of Oakland in the AL wild-card race. Garciaparra leads the AL with a .354 average.

The Mariners took a 6-4 lead into the eighth on two-run homers by Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez.

Reliever Jose Paniagua (6-11) gave up singles to Garciaparra and Jon Nunnally, setting the stage for Varitek's 15th homer. The Red Sox added two more runs in the inning on an RBI double by Damon Buford and a run-scoring single by Jose Offerman.

Rich Garces (4-1), the third Red Sox pitcher, allowed one run in two innings.

Griffey's two-run shot in the first inning off Boston starter Mark Portugal was his 42nd, tying him for the AL lead with Rafael Palmeiro of Texas. Rodriguez hit his 36th in the third to chase Portugal. Edgar Martinez added his 22nd homer, a solo shot, off Garces in the sixth. The three home runs gave the Mariners a major league-leading 211.

* TIGERS 5, ATHLETICS 4: Tony Clark had a two-run homer and a sacrifice fly, leading visiting Detroit past Oakland.

Willie Blair (2-10) allowed three runs and seven hits over 6 1/3 innings for his first victory since May 8. Blair has only made three starts since May 26, his last coming Aug. 24 in the Tigers' 5-0 loss to the Mariners.

Leading 1-0, Detroit scored four runs in the third on Deivi Cruz's RBI double, Clark's 25th homer of the season and Bill Haselman's RBI double.

The crowd booed A's starter Jimmy Haynes (7-12) and Manager Art Howe responded by calling in Mike Oquist, who got the last out of the inning.

Haynes, who extended his losing streak to a career-high five games, allowed five runs and six hits over 2 2/3 innings. He has not won since July 18.

* YANKEES 8, ANGELS 3: Darryl Strawberry hit his first home run in more than a year, and Derek Jeter went 4 for 5 with a homer as New York won on the road.

Strawberry, in his fourth game since rejoining the Yankees following colon cancer surgery and a 113-day drug suspension, hit a 2-1 pitch from Al Levine in the sixth inning 415 feet over the right field fence. It was his first homer since Aug. 30, 1998.

Ed Yarnall (1-0) earned his first career victory in his first major league start.

* ROYALS 6, BLUE JAYS 3: Jay Witasick pitched eight strong innings and Ray Holbert had a career-high four hits as host Kansas City avoided a sweep by Toronto.

* TWINS 4, DEVIL RAYS 1: Brad Radke (12-12) pitched a five-hitter and Todd Walker hit an inside-the-park homer as visiting Minnesota beat Tampa Bay. It was Radke's fourth complete game this season and 18th of his career.

* WHITE SOX-RANGERS, PPD.: The game in Arlington, Tex., was rained out after a delay of 1 hour 58 minutes. The game will be made up today as part of a twi-night doubleheader beginning at 6:05 p.m.

CAPTION: Shawn Green heads home after hitting first-inning solo homer in Blue Jays' 6-3 loss to the Royals.