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MARINERS WIN BATTLE OF LEADERS

Even when he's not as his best, the wins keep adding up for Gil Meche.

Meche pitched seven-plus innings to win his seventh game -- second-most in the American League -- and Bret Boone homered, doubled twice and drove in four runs as the Seattle Mariners beat the Minnesota Twins, 10-6, Thursday night.

In the first game of a four-game series between the division leaders, the Mariners tied their season high for hits with 18 and won for the 10th time in 13 games. The Twins had won 21 of their last 27 games, including two of three last weekend in Seattle.

Meche (7-2) gave up four runs, six hits, walked one and struck out four. He allowed three solo home runs to Jacque Jones, Doug Mientkiewicz and Torii Hunter, all on 1-0 fastballs leading off innings.

"For the outcomes that I've had, I'll take that any day," Meche said. "I didn't have a whole lot of command of my fastball today, and it showed. They hit me pretty well today, but it just happened to be right at guys a lot of times, and I kind of got lucky."

The Twins didn't see it that way.

"Meche was tough," Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We hit the ball often but he's got a great changeup, a good slider and curveball, and the ball jumps out of his hand."

Boone's two-run homer off Brad Radke (5-5) gave the Mariners a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning. The drive to left-center was his 14th home run of the season, and the 200th of his 13-year major league career.

"It's a milestone, a stepping stone in your career," Boone said. "I've hit a few home runs."

Figure eight for Mulder

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Mark Mulder tied for the AL lead with his eighth win, leading the Oakland Athletics over the reeling Kansas City Royals, 6-1.

Mulder (8-2) improved to 6-0 against Kansas City, allowing eight hits in seven innings. He lowered his ERA to 2.36, second in the AL to Chicago's Esteban Loaiza (1.96) and pitched at least seven innings for the ninth straight start.

Kansas City got its only run on Angel Berroa's two-out RBI double in the seventh.

"He's such an aggressive hitter, I just wanted to throw a changeup down there and I didn't care if it was a strike or a ball," Mulder said of Berroa. "It was a ball, but he just went down and got it."

Oakland has won nine of its last 10 games against the Royals.

Royals rookie Kyle Snyder (0-3) allowed only two hits until Eric Byrnes led off the sixth with a single, which stretched his hitting streak to a career-high 19 games.

The A's designated outfielder Ron Gant for assignment. Gant, who has 321 home runs in 15-plus seasons, had appeared in only 17 games this year and was batting .146.

Loaiza beats former team

TORONTO -- Esteban Loaiza took pleasure in beating his former team.

Loaiza allowed just two runs in 7 2/3 innings as the Chicago White Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays, 3-2.

"Especially pitching against my old teammates, I want to do good," Loaiza said.

Loaiza (8-2) allowed five hits, struck out four and walked two. His league-leading ERA increased from 1.92 to 1.96 as he tied Seattle's Jamie Moyer Toronto's Cory Lidle and Mulder for the AL lead in wins.

Loaiza, 9-10 with a 5.71 ERA for Toronto last season, wasn't happy with how the Blue Jays treated him in the offseason.

"They didn't want me, period," he said earlier this week. "It upset me because at first they were like, 'We'll talk later,' then I talked to my agent at the end and they were like, 'No, we don't need him.' It's like throwing a piece of paper in the trash."

Carlos Delgado hit his 16th homer for the Blue Jays.

Around the horn

Hank Blalock went 3 for 3, walked twice and scored two runs as the Rangers beat the Orioles, 8-4, ending Baltimore's four-game winning streak. . . . Jarrod Washburn pitched four-hit ball into the seventh inning as the Angels beat the Devil Rays, 2-1.

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