KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The hottest hitter in the majors cannot lie. Once in a while, even A-Rod steals a glance at the scoreboard and goes "Wow!"
"Sure. Sometimes," Alex Rodriguez said. "I've peeked up there a couple of times. You smile. You have to enjoy it a little bit and keep it moving."
The Kauffman Stadium scoreboard on Sunday registered A-Rod's seventh home run in five games and his ninth in 11, as the New York Yankees beat the Kansas City Royals 6-3 for a three-game sweep. The victory increased the Yankees' AL wild-card lead to four games over the Detroit Tigers.
It's the fifth time in his brilliant 13-year career that the Yankees third baseman has homered in five straight games. With 19 games left in what he calls "a magical season," A-Rod leads the majors with 52 home runs and 140 RBI.
"I'm enjoying it," said Rodriguez, who was 2-for-5 with a single. "It says a lot about the three guys who are hitting in front of me and the protection I'm getting behind me. The reason I'm getting pitched to is those guys behind me -- they get a lot of respect. I just want to finish strong."
Chien-Ming Wang earned his 18th win to remain tied for the major league lead, and Jorge Posada hit a tiebreaking, two-run double as the Yankees won their fifth in a row and 23rd in 35 games. With Derek Jeter held out because of a sore knee, the Yankees stayed 5½ games back of first-place Boston in the AL East.
The Red Sox beat Baltimore 3-2 behind Josh Beckett, who also has 18 wins.
Wang (18-6) gave up a three-run double to rookie Alex Gordon but went seven innings to win his fifth start in a row. Against the Royals, the right-hander is 4-0 in six career starts.
"When we tied the score we felt pretty good," said Royals manager Buddy Bell. "But they are just on fire right now."
Mariano Rivera worked the ninth for his 25th save in 28 chances.
The Yankees are a season-high 19 games over .500 as they take a day off before resuming a crucial nine-game road trip that concludes at Toronto and Boston.
"We're here to get to the postseason," said manager Joe Torre. "We want to win the division. We're going to need help for that to be accomplished. But we're playing well right now and we just need to make sure we pay attention every day."
A-Rod's two-run shot off Zack Greinke in the first inning raised his career total to 516, five behind Ted Williams and Willie McCovey for 15th place all-time.
Greinke came into the game not having allowed a run in 19 straight innings and determined not to let Rodriguez beat him.
"I was planning on not pitching to him today," Greinke said. "It was either going to be on the corner or off the plate. And he still hit it. That's just how good he is. ... It was an inch over the plate."
So it was a good pitch?
"To a normal person, yeah."
So A-Rod's not normal?
"Not when it comes to baseball."
Brandon Duckworth (2-5) pitched two-thirds of an inning in relief and took the loss.
Bale then struck out six of his next eight batters. He fanned Bobby Abreu, Rodriguez and Matsui on 11 pitches in the seventh.
Wang gave up five hits, walking four and striking out four. The right-hander, whose 37 victories in 61 starts since the beginning of the 2006 season leads the majors, threw as many pitches in the fourth (25) as he had thrown in the first three innings combined.
Even with a day off last Thursday and another one coming Monday, the Yankees kept Wang on his regular four days' rest so the sinkerballer would pitch on the grass in Kansas City instead of the artificial turf in Toronto.
- The Yankees recalled LHPs Sean Henn and Kei Igawa and RHPs Matt DeSalvo and Jeff Karstens from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. They also called up OF Bronson Sardinha and purchased the contract of right-hander Ross Ohlendorf.
- The Yankees moved INF Andy Phillips from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL.
- Greinke threw 90 pitches, 51 for strikes.
- Bale's seven strikeouts were the most by a Royals reliever this season.
- New York won nine of 10 from Kansas City this year.