CLEVELAND - Jake Westbrook took an unconventional route to his career-high 15th victory, just like the one the Indians may follow to the playoffs.
In April, Westbrook went 0-5, losing two complete games. By the middle of June, things weren't much better as the Cleveland right-hander was 2-9.
It was no different for the Indians, who had a 9-14 April and were going nowhere.
"I guess it's kind of a not-give-up attitude," Westbrook said. "We've bounced back."
Westbrook pushed his record over .500 for the first time this season Thursday night as Ronnie Belliard's three-run homer sent the wild card-leading Indians to a 6-4 win over the Oakland Athletics.
Belliard's shot in the seventh on Barry Zito's 122nd and final pitch allowed Cleveland to remain one game up on the Yankees for the wild card and extend its lead over the A's to 31/2.
The Indians also moved within five games of first-place Chicago in the Central, the closest they've been in the division since April 21.
"We can't worry about that until the end," Westbrook said.
Belliard fell behind 0-and-2 before pulling Zito's pitch over the wall in left. The Indians went on to their ninth win in 10 games and are a major league-best 30-11 since July 31.
Nick Swisher hit a three-run homer for the A's, who with a win would have tied the Angels atop the West. Oakland opens a four-game series in Boston today.
"We're still focused on the division," A's manager Ken Macha said. "We knew this would be a difficult road trip."
Westbrook didn't give up a hit until the sixth and allowed two in seven strong innings. The right-hander, who opened 1-7, is 9-2 in 11 starts since July 21 and already has one more win than he had in 2004, when he made the All-Star team.
"I'm pretty proud of that," Westbrook said. "To have a 2-9 record and come back and be 15-14. You can't ever hang your head."
Bob Wickman gave up a one-out homer to Mark Kotsay and walked Scott Hatteberg with two outs in the ninth before striking out Dan Johnson for his league-leading 41st save.
The Indians wasted several scoring chances against Zito, who was hurt by five walks and struggled with plate umpire Randy Marsh's tight strike zone.
ROYALS 10, WHITE SOX 9: Angel Berroa's double to rightfield drove in the tying run and Jermaine Dye's fielding error allowed Mark Teahen to score the winner as host Kansas City rallied.
Chicago lost for the fourth time in 17 games against the Royals this season and had its Central lead cut to five over the Indians.
The Royals scored three in the ninth against Dustin Hermanson, who blew his fourth save in 38 chances, to snap a 102-game losing streak when trailing after eight innings.
MARINERS 10, ANGELS 9: Last-place Seattle swept West-leading Los Angeles for the second time this season, winning on Yuniesky Betancourt's ninth-inning single.
Raul Ibanez homered and drove in four for the host Mariners, and Richie Sexson also connected.
The Angels fought back from deficits of 6-0, 7-4 and 9-7 to tie the score in the ninth on pinch-hitter Bengie Molina's two-out single off closer Eddie Guardado.
Jose Lopez doubled against Francisco Rodriguez with one out in the bottom half and was replaced by pinch-runner Ramon Santiago. Rodriguez walked Greg Dobbs intentionally before Betancourt singled to left for his third hit.
RED SOX 5, BLUE JAYS 3: David Ortiz hit his career-high 42nd homer, a tiebreaking two-run drive in the eighth that led visiting Boston.
Ortiz drove in three for the East-leading Red Sox.
David Wells won for the fourth time in five starts, allowing three runs in seven innings. Mike Timlin pitched the ninth for his eighth save in 14 chances.
With the score tied at 3, Bill Mueller singled with two outs and Ortiz homered off Josh Towers, the 17th time he has given the Red Sox a tie or a lead. Eight have come in the seventh inning or later.
TIGERS 4, TWINS 2: Craig Monroe hit a tiebreaking two-run single with two outs in the eighth to lift host Detroit. Curtis Granderson's two-run homer in the third gave the Tigers a lead they clung to until the eighth, when Michael Cuddyer's two-out single tied the score at 2.
RANGERS 7, ORIOLES 6 (10): Kevin Mench drove in the winner with a 10th-inning single, and host Texas rallied to end Baltimore's four-game winning streak. Pinch-hitter David Dellucci tied the score with a two-run homer in the ninth off Jorge Julio. Alfonso Soriano also connected for the Rangers, his 34th.