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Williams' Two Homers Power Indians

June 29, 1997|From Associated Press

Matt Williams has struggled with his batting average this season, but hitting home runs has rarely been a problem.

Williams hit two homers and tied career highs with four hits and six runs batted in Saturday as the Indians had 19 hits in a 12-8 victory over the Yankees at New York.

"I'm certainly not satisfied. Today was nice, but I'm certainly not where I want to be," Williams said.

Williams hit a two-run home run in the second inning off Yankee starter David Wells and a three-run homer off reliever Jim Mecir to cap a six-run sixth. Williams also had two singles as Cleveland ended New York's four-game winning streak.

Sandy Alomar went three for five to extend his hitting streak to 25 games. Marquis Grissom matched his career high with five hits, including two doubles, and drove in three runs.

Williams, who hit over .300 in his final two seasons with the San Francisco Giants, went into Saturday's game batting .225 with the Indians. He increased his average to .236 and now has 17 home runs and 47 RBIs.

"It's a start, but we still have a long way to go," Williams said.

"I think he's very demanding of himself," Indian Manager Mike Hargrove said.

Both of Williams' homers went into the right-center field bleachers, but he said he wasn't trying to hit the ball the opposite way.

"I just want to put the head of the bat on the ball, regardless of where it goes," Williams said.

Williams has been making adjustments in his stance and Hargrove said he believes that has helped.

"He was spreading his stance out a little bit to get a better look at the ball," Hargrove said. "We'll wait and see how it turns out."

Detroit 9, Boston 2--The Tigers are apparently learning from their past failures against the Red Sox. They're wasting no time doing it, either.

Tony Clark and Melvin Nieves homered on the first pitch of an inning at Boston to lead the Tigers to their third consecutive victory against Boston.

Detroit is 5-1 against the Red Sox after going 1-12 last year.

"I'm past trying to dwell on last year," Clark said. "We've learned from that. Our focus is to go on and develop from where we were."

The Tigers had four first-pitch hits, driving in six runs. Former Cal State Fullerton star Phil Nevin drove in four runs, three on a ninth-inning homer, on two pitches.

"I just went up there looking for a good pitch to hit," Nevin said. "When I come off the bench, I like to swing the bat right away. We've got a lot of guys who like to swing the bats. If we get a good first pitch, we're swinging."

Felipe Lira (5-4), winless in four June starts after going 4-0 in May, held the Red Sox to two runs and six hits in six innings.

Toronto 5, Baltimore 2--The Blue Jays are playing differently than they have all year. So are the Orioles.

Orlando Merced hit one of Toronto's three solo home runs and the Blue Jays got another strong performance from their bullpen at Baltimore in handing the Orioles their season-high third consecutive loss.

The Orioles got home runs from B.J. Surhoff and Mike Bordick but became the last team in the majors to lose three in a row.

"We played well the last three days and came up with some big hits," Toronto Manager Cito Gaston said. "We've kind of put our hitting and pitching together, and that's something we haven't done all year."

Baltimore hopes today's expected arrival of Geronimo Berroa, obtained in a trade with Oakland on Friday, will revive an offense that has scored three runs in its last three games.

"We've been struggling a little bit. The guys are pressing and we're a little flat," Manager Davey Johnson said.

"Times are tough right now. The guys have been struggling a little bit," Baltimore starter Jimmy Key said. "We're not scoring runs and that puts the pressure on the pitchers. We held off for a long time, but we've finally lost three in a row."

Milwaukee 5, Kansas City 3--Mark Loretta had a cut on his chin and his forehead was swollen and red.

"Maybe I should go get in a fight, and that would explain it," he said.

Loretta tripled home two runs at Kansas City, giving the Brewers, the AL's worst road team, a rare victory away from home.

Then Loretta made one of the most hideous slides of the season. Instead of going feet first into the base, he did a face-first belly-flop into the dirt about five feet in front of the bag and half-bounced, half-crawled the rest of the way.

"The turf was a little bit wet and my head stuck," he said. "It was kind of a mess."

Play was halted a few minutes while the Brewer trainer repaired the cut on Loretta's chin and fans laughed at the video replay on the Jumbotron.

"I jammed everything--my neck, my head. I was dazed a little bit, but it went away pretty quick," Loretta said. "It will be one of those blooper shots."

Jeff D'Amico won his fourth consecutive decision as the Brewers stopped a four-game losing streak.

D'Amico (6-3) gave up three runs and nine hits in seven innings.

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