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BASEBALL EXTRA | ROUNDUP

From Beginning to End, Orioles Rule

September 25, 1997|From Associated Press

The Baltimore Orioles, who moved into first place on opening day and never looked back, clinched their first AL East championship since 1983 by beating the Blue Jays, 9-3, Wednesday night at Toronto.

Rafael Palmeiro hit his 38th homer and drove in four runs as the Orioles became only the sixth team in major league history to hold first place for every day.

"Wire to wire. It's kind of mind-boggling," Cal Ripken said. "What it says is we played good at the start, good in the middle and good in the end.

"This celebration is going to be sweet. But it's also going to be short. We've got to start thinking about Seattle, and anything can happen in a short series. Fortunately, the kind of season we had is something we can dwell on as we get ready for the playoffs."

The Orioles lead New York by four games with four left. But Baltimore won its eighth division title by going 8-4 against the Yankees.

The Orioles, the AL's wild-card team last season, will open the playoffs Wednesday at West champion Seattle.

The wild-card Yankees will be home to face Central champion Cleveland on Tuesday.

The Blue Jays played their first game under interim Manager Mel Queen after Cito Gaston was fired earlier in the day. They then lost their fifth in a row.

New York 8, Cleveland 4--The Yankees beat their first-round playoff opponent at Cleveland as Dwight Gooden, a possible postseason starter, improved to 5-0 lifetime against the Indians with a 2.88 earned-run average.

A night after squandering a seven-run, sixth-inning lead and watching the Indians clinch the Central, New York erupted for seven runs in four innings against left-hander Brian Anderson--and held the lead.

Gooden allowed four runs and seven hits in seven innings and struck out three.

David Cone and Andy Pettitte are likely to start the first playoff games for the Yankees.

Either Gooden and David Wells may start Game 3, although Gooden said this week that he thought Wells deserved it.

"Doc didn't do anything to hurt himself," Manager Joe Torre said. "If anything, he enhanced his chances . . . It's just a decision if it's Doc or the Boomer."

Boston 9, Detroit 2--Tim Wakefield allowed four hits in seven-plus innings and Mo Vaughn hit a two-run homer off the right-field roof for the Red Sox at Detroit.

Scott Hatteberg and Darren Bragg each added three hits and two RBIs.

Travis Fryman homered for the Tigers, who lost for only the second time in their last seven games. Detroit is still a major league-best 16-8 in September.

Wakefield (12-15) won his third consecutive decision. The knuckleballer, who struck out seven and walked four, is 7-2 in his last 10 starts.

Willie Blair (16-8) gave up 10 hits and six earned runs in five-plus innings and took the loss. He struck out three and walked none in his first home loss since the Red Sox beat him June 22.

Minnesota 7, Chicago 2--Frank Rodriguez took a shutout into the eighth inning at Chicago and Matt Lawton and Marty Cardova each drove in two runs for the Twins.

Rodriguez (3-6) pitched seven-plus innings, allowing five hits and two runs. He got his first win as a starter since April 18 at Seattle. His last victory was in relief against the White Sox on July 14.

Rick Aguilera got the final out for his 26th save.

Milwaukee 4, Kansas City 3--Darrin Jackson's bases-loaded bunt with two outs in the 15th inning brought home the winning run at Milwaukee in a game that lasted four hours 53 minutes.

Fernando Vina led off the 15th with a single off Jeff Montgomery, moved to second on Jeff Cirillo's groundout, and took third on Gerald Williams' sacrifice fly.

After Julio Franco and Jeromy Burnitz walked, Jackson bunted down the third-base line and slid in safely at first ahead of Dean Palmer's throw.

Paul Wagner, making his American League debut, picked up the win with a scoreless 15th.

He was signed Sept. 2 as a free agent after being designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

BESTS OF THE DAY

BATTING

Player: Rafael Palmeiro

Team: Baltimore

Performance: 2 for 2, 38th homer, 4 RBIs

Team's Result: Win

*

Player: Scott Hatteberg

Team: Boston

Performance: 3 for 4, 2 runs, 2 RBIs

Team's Result: Win

*

Player: Darren Bragg

Team: Boston

Performance: 3 for 5, 2 RBIs

Team's Result: Win

*

Player: Jose Cruz Jr.

Team: Toronto

Performance: 2 for 4, 26th homer, 2 RBIs, run

Team's Result: Loss

PITCHING

Player: Tim Wakefield

Team: Boston

Performance: 7-plus innings, 4 hits, 2 runs, 7 strikeouts

Team's Result: Win

*

Player: Frank Rodriguez

Team: Minnesota

Performance: 7-plus innings, 5 hits, 2 runs

Team's Result: Win

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