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American League Roundup : This Time, Butler Does It; Yankees Fall Again

Brett Butler isn’t exactly a Pat Tabler when it comes to hitting with the bases loaded, but he did the next best thing.

Butler came up with the bases loaded in the seventh inning Sunday at New York and popped out, but when he came up in the eighth with two on and the game tied, the Cleveland center fielder contributed a game-winning double.

In a wild battle, the Indians scored four runs in the eighth inning off Yankee bullpen ace Dave Righetti to earn a 9-7 victory, their second in a row over the Eastern Division leaders.

Butler’s teammate, Tabler, is on a streak in which he has hit safely in 23 of 37 at-bats with the bases loaded. His two-run single with the bases full Saturday was the winning hit in a 3-2 victory.

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In this one, the Yankees rallied to take a 7-5 lead with three runs in the seventh. But in the eighth, after Righetti retired the first two batters, the Indians went on a rampage. Four consecutive singles produced two runs. Butler, with the count 3 and 2, fouled off seven straight pitches, then ripped one into left-center field to hand Righetti his first loss after two wins.

“On my at-bat with the bases loaded,” Butler told the Associated Press, “I tried to do too much with the pitch and popped it up. It was frustrating. I felt like I didn’t do my job. I went back to the dugout and broke my helmet into 20 pieces. The next time I was just trying to stay alive and get a piece of it, hit it square if I could.”

The day started out with cheers for knuckleballer Phil Niekro, the 47-year-old former Yankee who now pitches for Cleveland. Niekro started against rookie Bob Tewksbury, the youngster who replaced him in the Yankee rotation.

The Yankees pounded Niekro for nine hits and seven runs, three unearned, in 6 innings, while Tewksbury held the Indians to three hits in six innings before retiring with a sore arm and a 4-2 lead that the Yankee bullpen couldn’t hold.

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“It was like trying to hold water back with your hands,” said Dave Winfield, whose sliding catch of a Butler looper in the second inning prevented two other Cleveland runs. “Every time we scored, they scored more.”

Winfield, in addition to the run-saving catch, had three hits, scored two runs and drove in another.

Ed Whitson, often the target of abuse by New York fans, pitched a scoreless ninth to cheers.

Oakland 1, Seattle 0--It has been a long four-year road back, but Rick Langford, once an ironman among pitchers, believes he has finally made it back.

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Langford held the light-hitting Mariners (.137 team average over the last 11 games) to one hit in seven innings and stuck out seven. Jay Howell took over in the eighth and struck out five more, earning his fourth save.

“I think I’ve come all the way back,” Langford said. “I sure hope I erased some doubts with this game.”

At the start of the 1980s, Langford was the ace of an A’s staff that under Manager Billy Martin was expected to finish what it started. Langford pitched 28 complete games in 1980 and 18 the next season.

In 1983, the hard-working right-hander needed surgery on the arm. After that, Langford didn’t win a game until late last season, when the arm was finally rehabilitated. This spring he pitched well but lost his first two starts to the Angels.

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“I was here to see Rick Langford at his best years ago,” center fielder Dwayne Murphy said. “Today, that was him at his best.”

Texas 6, Milwaukee 2--In this game at Arlington, Tex., hard-throwing Bobby Witt had his blistering fastball somewhat under control.

In seven innings, he gave up three hits, struck out 11, but walked six to make his record for the Rangers 2-0. He was 0-6 in his pro debut last season with Tulsa of the Texas League.

“Bobby showed me a lot of guts,” Ranger Manager Bobby Valentine said. “He had a nasty blister after the second inning but didn’t want to come out. He probably could have gone the distance, but, because of the blister, I felt he had gone far enough.”

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Detroit 4, Chicago 1--Jack Morris served up his 10th home run ball of the young season in this game at Detroit, but otherwise was in complete command.

Morris went into the game with a 2-2 record and an earned-run average of 7.80. He went the distance, giving up six hits and striking out six.

“I was beginning to wonder if I had lost it,” Morris said. “I asked some people I trust and they assured me I had not.”

Chicago’s lone run came on Ron Kittle’s fifth home run of the season.

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Toronto 8, Baltimore 0--Jim Clancy gave up nine hits at Baltimore but pitched his first shutout in three years.

A two-run home run by Cecil Fielder and solo shots by George Bell and Rance Mulliniks made it an easy victory for Clancy (2-1). “The more hits they got the harder I was bearing down,” Clancy said.


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