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American League Roundup : Cooper Is Back in Groove

Cecil Cooper is on a rampage. He is proving that last season was a fluke.

After seven consecutive seasons as a .300 hitter, Cooper slipped to .275 last season. There was some talk that at 35, the Milwaukee first baseman was on a down swing.

Cooper had two more hits, including a single in the three-run seventh inning that brought the Brewers from behind to a 5-3 victory over the Red Sox Tuesday night at Boston.

The big hit in the rally was a tie-breaking two-out double by Ted Simmons that enabled Danny Darwin to improve his record to 5-3. Darwin struck out eight in eight innings and became only the second pitcher to beat the Red Sox in the last 13 games.

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Cooper, who has hit safely in his last 14 games and has had two hits in each of the last three games, raised his average to .337.

The talk about losing it and not hustling caused Cooper to stop talking to the media last season. As soon as he regained his swing this season, all the frustration was forgotten.

So, what’s the difference between this year and last?

“Nothing, nothing that I haven’t done before,” Cooper said. “After years and years of doing what you do, sometimes you slip down a bit. I’m just going up there and making contact this year, nothing mysterious about that.”

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With Cooper’s poor 1984 season and a rash of injuries, the Brewers fell into the cellar in the American League East. This year they are above .500 and only 2 1/2 games out of second place.

Hitting coach Frank Howard is convinced that with Cooper’s “tension-free” swing he can continue to be an outstanding hitter for a long time to come.

“I would say that with his body-build, his attitude and his approach to the game, he can hit like he is until he’s well into his 40s,” Howard said.

“I’ve heard rumors that he might be traded, but I say why trade a guy like that when he’s performing like he is? I’ll tell you one thing, I sure would rather have him on my side than the other side.”

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Toronto 4, New York 1--The Blue Jays needed some help at New York to halt a three-game losing streak, and they got it. Yankee second baseman Willie Randolph dropped a throw with one out in the 11th inning to set up three unearned runs.

Randolph dropped a throw from third baseman Dale Berra, and pinch-runner Lou Thornton raced home from third with the tie-breaking run.

The Blue Jays appeared to have it won, 1-0, in regulation, but with two out in the ninth, Berra hit a shot into the upper deck in left for his first home run of the season.

Damaso Garcia led off the 11th with a single off Brian Fisher, stole second and went to third when ball four to Rance Mulliniks was a wild pitch.

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Dave Righetti replaced Fisher, and Thornton ran for Garcia. With one out, Willie Upshaw grounded to third. Berra looked Thornton back to third and fired to Randolph, who dropped the throw. Buck Martinez then singled in two more runs.

Dennis Lamp pitched two scoreless innings to improve his record to 5-0.

Ed Whitson, a disappointment as a $1 million free agent, had his best outing for the Yankees. Whitson, who has a 1-6 record and had an earned-run average of 6.23 before the game, gave up only one run and six hits in 9 innings.

The run came in the third on Lloyd Moseby’s sacrifice fly. The run stood up until Berra homered off Gary Lavelle to ruin Jimmy Key’s bid for a fifth win in a row.

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Oakland 4, Kansas City 3--Carney Lansford singled home Rob Picciolo from second base with two out in the ninth inning at Oakland to give the A’s the victory.

The Royals built a 3-1 lead at the expense of Don Sutton, but the A’s rallied to tie in the seventh.

In the ninth Picciolo singled off Bud Black (5-6) and Donnie Hill walked, bringing in Mike LaCoss to pitch. One out later Lansford came through in the clutch. Reliever Jay Howell (6-3) got his third win in three games.

Chicago 7, Seattle 1--Tim Lollar (2-2) held the Mariners to one run over 6 innings, and Rudy Law drove in two runs with a triple at Seattle to lead the White Sox to their fourth straight win. The White Sox took over first place in the AL West by a half-game as the Angels lost.

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Law’s triple capped a four-run second inning for the White Sox. With one out, Oscar Gamble singled. Julio Cruz walked and Ozzie Guillen snapped an 0-for-21 streak with a single to score Gamble. Law tripled to drive in Cruz and Guillen, and then scored on a balk by Mariners’ starter Billy Swift (1-1).

The Mariners’ Jim Presley hit his 14th homer of the season, his fourth in the past four games.


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