American League Roundup : Bell's 46th Homer Helps Blue Jays Win

September 21, 1987|DAN HAFNER

George Bell does most of his talking with the bat--and it is speaking loudly these days.

Bell, who turns down requests for interviews and gives brief replies to postgame questions, hit his 46th home run of the season Sunday at New York to lead the Toronto Blue Jays to a 6-2 victory over the Yankees.

With the Detroit Tigers losing to the Milwaukee Brewers, the Blue Jays are only a half-game out of first place in the tight scramble in the American League East. The Yankees, who split the four-game series, are 8 1/2 games behind with 13 to play.

Bell's home run, which came with a man on to break a scoreless tie in the fourth, enabled him to tie Mark McGwire of Oakland for the major league lead in home runs.

In the second inning, Bell was called out on strikes when he thought time was called after rookie Al Leiter brushed him back on a two-strike pitch.

Asked if what happened in the second inning made him angry, Bell, who leads the majors with 128 runs batted in, said, "Nothing bothers me." End of interview.

His home run came on an 0-and-2 pitch and, if it didn't excite the Blue Jays' slugger, it did his manager, Jimy Williams.

"Big games, big situations, he likes those," Williams said. "He has come through in the clutch as much as anyone in baseball."

Jimmy Key, seeking his eighth win in a row, couldn't hold the lead, but relievers Jimmy Wells and Tom Henke shut out the Yankees in the last four innings. Nelson Liriano and Willie Upshaw hit late-inning homers for the Blue Jays.

Milwaukee 11, Detroit 4--Paul Molitor, making a strong bid for his first batting title, had a single, double and home run in his first three at-bats at Detroit to spoil Jack Morris' bid for his 19th victory.

Dale Sveum, Robin Yount and Bill Schroeder all hit two-run home runs as the Brewers made it easy for Juan Nieves (13-7) to win for the seventh time in his last eight decisions.

Morris (18-9) gave up six runs and three home runs, but four Brewer runs in the second inning were unearned because left fielder Kirk Gibson misplayed B.J. Surhoff's fly ball.

The three hits boosted Molitor's average to .350. He is close to the 502 plate appearances needed to qualify for the batting title, and with Wade Boggs in a slump, he has a shot.

Morris said: "I thought I had good stuff. The Brewers must have thought it was good, too."

Minnesota 3, Cleveland 2--The Twins have only six home games remaining, but they may be just enough to win the West.

Kirby Puckett, continuing to make a strong bid for the Most Valuable Player Award, went 3 for 4, including a two-run home run, at Minneapolis to keep the Twins 3 1/2 games in front.

Puckett, known as a bad-ball hitter, hit a Rich Yett forkball that was up and over the plate for his 26th home run.

"I've been working on swinging only at good pitches," Puckett said. "That time I did."

Les Straker, a rookie who spent 10 years in the minors, improved his record to 8-9. Bullpen ace Jeff Reardon pitched a scoreless ninth for his 28th save and improve the Twins' record at home to 52-23. It was the first time this season Reardon has pitched on three consecutive days. He has 12 scoreless innings in his last seven appearances.

Oakland 7, Kansas City 6--Reggie Jackson would like just one more chance to play the role of Mr. October. The 41-year-old star of many playoffs and World Series, is retiring after this season. He hasn't played much lately for the Athletics.

But, in this game at Kansas City, he drove in two runs to help build a 7-0 lead and the Athletics barely held on to sweep the three-game series.

The Royals cut the Athletics' lead to 7-6 with two runs in the seventh, but Dennis Eckersley struck out four batters in two innings to earn his 14th save.

Mark McGwire didn't hit a home run, but he had four singles.

The Athletics are 3 1/2 games behind the Twins. The Royals are 6 back.

Chicago 5, Seattle 3--Carlton Fisk singled in the first run in a four-run fifth inning that enabled rookie Jack McDowell to win his second straight start at Chicago. It was Fisk's 16th game-winning RBI.

Boston 5-6, Baltimore 1-3--The Red Sox have found one team they can beat. With this sweep at Baltimore, they finished the season 12-1 against the Orioles.

Roger Clemens (17-9) pitched a three-hitter and Dwight Evans hit his 34th home run in the opener.

Rookie Todd Benzinger hit a zinger off former Dodger Tom Niedenfuer in the eighth to win the nightcap. Niedenfuer had an 0-and-2 count when Benzinger hit his sixth home run. It came with two on and the score tied, 3-3.

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