CINCINNATI - Yadier Molina homered during a tone-setting, five-run first inning Monday night and drove in four runs overall, leading the St. Louis Cardinals to a 13-1 victory over the Cincinnati Reds and the early advantage in their pivotal matchup.
Chris Duncan, Scott Rolen and Scott Spiezio also homered for the National League Central leaders, who extended their lead over second-place Cincinnati to 4 games. The rivals play seven times - four in Cincinnati, three in St. Louis - during the next two weeks.
Right-hander Jeff Weaver (2-2) gave his best performance since joining the Cardinals in a July 5 trade with the Angels. He allowed six hits, including Javier Valentin's homer, in six innings on a muggy night.
St. Louis set a season high with 10 extra-base hits in a game that will stand as a measuring stick for both teams - the Cardinals' most lopsided victory of the season, the Reds' worst home drubbing since a 16-7 loss to the Cubs on Opening Day.
BLUE JAYS 8, ORIOLES 1
In Toronto, Brian Tallet and two relievers combined on a two-hitter in place of injured starter Ted Lilly as Lyle Overbay homered and drove in five runs to lead Toronto to a victory over Baltimore.
Lilly was scratched just before his scheduled start because of a stiff neck.
Tallet didn't allow a hit in the first 2Q innings and was followed by Jeremy Accardo.
Accardo (1-0) gave up both hits but didn't allow a run in 2w innings. Brandon League earned his first major league save by pitching the final four innings.
Fernando Tatis singled in the third, and Miguel Tejada doubled in the fourth for Baltimore, which was outhit 14-2.
ANGELS 6, WHITE SOX 3
In Chicago, Vladimir Guerrero homered and Kelvim Escobar earned a rare win against Chicago, pitching Los Angeles to a victory.
Robb Quinlan and Jose Molina also connected off struggling Chicago starter Mark Buehrle, dropping the defending World Series champions 10 games behind first-place Detroit in the American League Central.
Escobar (8-9) gave up two runs and six hits in six innings to improve to 2-9 against the White Sox, including 1-7 as a starter. Francisco Rodriguez pitched a perfect ninth for his 27th save in 30 chances.
Jim Thome hit his 34th homer for Chicago.
TIGERS 9, TWINS 3
In Detroit, Zach Miner won a matchup of impressive rookies and the Detroit roughed up Francisco Liriano again in a victory over Minnesota.
Liriano (12-3) has a 7.63 ERA against Detroit this season, more than five times higher than his ERA (1.39) against the rest of the majors. He struggled after missing his last start with forearm inflammation. Liriano gave up four runs and a season-high 10 hits with four walks. He struck out five.