Giving away a big lead to the Indians was bad enough. The Yankees weren't about to let their slim three-game lead over the Red Sox get smaller.

Joe Girardi's two-run single capped New York's four-run ninth inning and Bernie Williams went 4 for 5 as the Yankees showed why they are World Series champions in outlasting the Indians, 11-7, yesterday in Cleveland.

Rookie D'Angelo Jimenez also had four hits and his first two career RBI and Derek Jeter went 3 for 6 with a homer as the Yankees maintained their three-game lead over second-place Boston in the American League East.

New York built a 6-0 lead after four innings against rookie Jim Brower, making his first start, before the Indians began knocking around Yankees starter David Cone.

But the Yankees recovered in time to take three of four games in the series and tie Cleveland for the best record in the AL with 13 games remaining.

"It was frustrating, then rewarding, then frustrating," Indians Manager Mike Hargrove said. "We came back against a great pitcher and a great ballclub, and to give it up the way we did was frustrating."

With the score tied at 7, Williams opened the Yankees' ninth with a double off Tom Martin (0-1). One out later, pinch hitter Tino Martinez was intentionally walked before Jorge Posada slapped an RBI single to left. Jimenez added an RBI double before Girardi singled in two more.

RED SOX 7, TIGERS 3: Nomar Garciaparra homered to help stop Dave Mlicki's eight-game winning streak and Trot Nixon also homered as Boston completed the three-game home sweep. A fifth straight win helped Boston keep pace with the Yankees and remain 4 1/2 games ahead of Oakland in the AL wild-card race.

"I don't hear one person talk about the wild card," said Red Sox pitcher Derek Lowe, who earned his 14th save. "I think when you settle for the wild card, you sell yourself short."

Tim Wakefield (6-10) allowed just four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked one and struck out three for only his second win since May 28.

WHITE SOX 3, BLUE JAYS 2: In Toronto, Brian Simmons hit a three-run homer as Chicago beat the fading Blue Jays. Toronto lost its fifth in a row and fell 10 1/2 games behind Boston in the AL wild-card race.

TWINS 2, MARINERS 1: LaTroy Hawkins became Minnesota's second double-digit winner and the Twins used Cristian Guzman's sacrifice fly in the fifth inning to win in Seattle.

Hawkins (10-13) allowed five hits in 7 2/3 innings, walked two and struck out five in besting Jamie Moyer (14-7).

ATHLETICS 12, ROYALS 3: Before a sparse crowd of 13,914 in Oakland, Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada both homered and drove in three runs to lead the Athletics.

DEVIL RAYS 15, RANGERS 2: Fred McGriff, Bubba Trammell and Jose Guillen homered as Tampa Bay routed host Texas. McGriff reached the 30-homer mark for the eighth time, becoming the second player to hit 30 for four different teams, joining teammate Jose Canseco. McGriff also hit 30 homers for the Blue Jays, Braves and Padres.