Don Mattingly hit a two-run home run to continue his pursuit of the Most Valuable Player award and give the Yankees a 4-3 victory over Seattle Wednesday night at New York.
With the Blue Jays losing to Cleveland, the relentless Yankees moved within 2 1/2 games of the Toronto in the tightening race in the American League East.
Once again, the managing of Billly Martin was a factor. Martin, looking for a starting pitcher before the game, decided on Rich Bordi instead of left-hander Bob Shirley because the Mariners have a predominantly right-handed lineup.
Bordi pitched 6 innings, his longest stint for the Yankees, giving up a run and six hits. Neil Allen relieved, and when he got into trouble in the ninth, Shirley came along to get the final two outs.
Mattingly, last year's batting champion, increased his major league-leading runs batted in total to 111. It was his 26th home run, three more than he hit last year, his first full season. It was also his 17th game-winning hit. He is hitting .325 but does not figure to repeat as batting champion.
It was the fifth win in a row for the Yankees, who are closer to first place than they have been since July 22.
"I pitched Bordi because he's tough against righties, " Martin told the Associated Press. "This club (the Mariners) is rough on lefties, but they do have trouble with righties with a slider, and that's what Bordi has."
Bordi said he "tried to go as far as I could because my buddies in the bullpen need the rest. I was really hoping to go nine innings, but I ran out of gas. As it was, we still had to use two relief pitchers."
Mark Langston (7-12) retired the first nine Yankees. But he walked Rickey Henderson on four pitches to open the fourth, and Mattingly followed with a 420-foot blast into the bleachers in right-center.
Cleveland 5, Toronto 4--The Blue Jays have been talking about how loose they are, and how the pressure of a pennant race is not getting to them.
They may have second thoughts about pressure after this loss at Toronto.
They went into the ninth inning tied, 3-3, and had their bullpen ace, Tom Henke, on the mound. But Brook Jacoby singled, and Otis Nixon, a .231 hitter, hit his third home run of the season.
Then, after Jesse Barfield opened the bottom of the ninth with his 21st home run, the Blue Jays loaded the bases with nobody out and couldn't score the tying run.
Garth Iorg, who has been a consistently good hitter this season, hit into a first-to-home double play, and George Bell grounded to short to end the game.
The home run shocked Indian Manager Pat Corrales as well as the Blue Jays.
"This is the new Otis Nixon," he said. "I was surprised he hit it out, but he's capable. We made it exciting."
Kansas City 6, Chicago 5--After bullpen ace Dan Quisenberry allowed the White Sox to score the tying run in the eighth inning at Kansas City, the Royals needed a little help.
They got it in the 10th when left fielder Luis Salazar misjudged Pat Sheridan's two-out fly ball in the 10th inning and allowed Darryl Motley to score the winning run.
Motley, who made a diving catch of Bryan Little's flyball in left to end the top of the inning with the potential go-ahead run, doubled to open the Royals' 10th.
The victory left the Royals' 1 1/2 games behind the Angels in the West.
John Wathan hit his first home run of the season in the sixth to give the Royals a 5-4 lead. But in the eighth, Salazar, who had two hits, tripled and scored on Ron Kittle's single.
Baltimore 6, Oakland 1--Storm Davis finally has everything under control and is pitching the way the Orioles thought he could.
Cal Ripken, Floyd Rayford and Mike Young hit home runs at Baltimore to spoil Don Sutton's bid for his 294th victory.
"It's just a matter of a little more control and a lot of confidence," Davis said after winning his fourth in a row to improve his record to 9-7.
"It's a matter of making better pitches in situations when it counts. This pitching staff has gone through a lot this year and has taken a lot of criticism, but I've got my confidence back. I've just been throwing a lot of fastballs and going right after the hitters."
Milwaukee 11, Minnesota 10--Rick Manning hit a three-run home run in the sixth at Minneapolis to give the Brewers an 11-7 lead and they barely lasted to win it.
Earlier Cecil Cooper hit a two-run home run to give him 1,000 lifetime RBIs.
There were 27 hits in the slugfest, including three home runs, a triple and six doubles.
Rollie Fingers retired the Twins in order in the ninth to pick up his 17th save.
The Brewers' rookie shortstop, Earnest Riles, had four singles, scored three runs and drove in one.