Robinson Cano drove in five runs, Alex Rodriguez hit a long homer and New York beat the overmatched Devil Rays 8-4 Wednesday night for its fifth straight victory, equaling a season high.
"We don't have a soft spot. We really don't," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "We have a lot of good energy right now and I'm really pleased with the way we're playing."
Derek Jeter extended his hitting streak to 22 games, the longest run by a Yankees player since current batting coach Don Mattingly had a 24-game string in 1986.
"You can't really explain it," Jeter said. "Sometimes you feel good for a long time and try to ride the wave."
Cano hit a two-run homer and Rodriguez went 3-for-4 with two RBI as New York trimmed the magic number for clinching its ninth consecutive AL East title to seven.
Despite a shaky start by Cory Lidle, the Yankees (88-56) won for the eighth time in 10 tries to move 32 games over .500 for the first time this year. Drawing away on the strength of a relentless lineup, they opened a season-high 11½-game lead over second-place Boston and could wrap up the division championship at home this weekend during a four-game series with the Red Sox.
Rocco Baldelli and Carl Crawford homered in the first inning for Tampa Bay, which fell to 2-24 on the road since July 1. The Devil Rays also dropped to 3-18-3 all-time in series at Yankee Stadium.
"They're tough for everybody," manager Joe Maddon said. "The lineup is very thick and there are no breaks. They're playing as well as they have offensively in a while."
Staked to a 6-2 lead, Lidle lasted only four-plus innings and failed to qualify for a win. He gave up four runs and nine hits, which couldn't have helped his dwindling chances to earn a playoff start.
Trying to beat out Jaret Wright for the No. 4 spot in New York's postseason rotation, the right-hander has struggled in consecutive outings and three of his past four. He was hit in the leg by a line drive during this one, but said that didn't affect him.
"Right now I'm not locating as well as I'm capable," Lidle said. "I know I can pitch well in the postseason. I don't think it's a matter of proving myself. I think they know what I can do. It's just a matter of doing it. I'm not worried."
Brian Bruney (1-1) yielded one hit in two shutout innings for his first win with the Yankees.
"You can't say enough about what (general manager Brian Cashman) has done. I don't know where he found this guy," Rodriguez said. "He's been unbelievable. He throws 94-98 (mph) and he just doesn't care. He's been a great shot in the arm for us."
Mike Myers, Scott Proctor and Kyle Farnsworth finished up with scoreless relief.
Cano hit a sacrifice fly in the first, his 10th homer in the third and a two-run double in the seventh that made it 8-4 and matched his career high for RBI.
Making a push for AL MVP, Jeter finished 1-for-5 with his 30th stolen base and scored twice.
Baldelli hit his fourth career leadoff homer, all this season. Crawford added a solo shot, his 17th home run of the year.
Two walks by rookie starter Jason Hammel (0-3) and Jeter's single loaded the bases with none out in the bottom half. Rodriguez drove in a run with an infield single, Jason Giambi had an RBI groundout, and Cano's sacrifice fly put New York ahead 3-2.
"I kept the ball inside the infield, for the most part," Hammel said. "The walks killed me. You've got to throw strikes in this league."
In the third, Rodriguez homered deep into the black batter's eye beyond the center-field fence. Cano's two-run shot made it 6-2.
Josh Paul hit an RBI single in the fourth, and Greg Norton chased Lidle with a run-scoring single in the fifth that cut it to 6-4.
Hammel allowed six runs and six hits over 4 2/3 innings in his sixth big league start.