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American League Roundup : Brewers Back In Race With Sweep of Tigers

There is one sure way for a team apparently out of a pennant race to climb back into it. It’s to beat up on the first-place team.

The Milwaukee Brewers, given no chance in the American League East two weeks ago, did just that and are not only back in the race, they are now one of the favorites to win it.

Beating the slumping Detroit Tigers six in a row is a big part of the reason why the Brewers, 11 games back on Aug. 26, are only 4 behind and charging.

Ted Higuera, the hottest pitcher in the majors, held the Tigers to 1 hit in 7 innings Sunday at Detroit as the Brewers breezed to a 6-1 victory.

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B.J. Surhoff hit a three-run home run to lead the Brewers to their sixth win in a row.

It was also the sixth in a row for Higuera, who is now 13-8 after experiencing back trouble for most of the first half of the season. In his last six games he has an earned-run average of 1.36. He has taken the league lead with an overall ERA of 2.33.

The injury-plagued Tigers were swept in the four-game series at home. Their pitching, which pulled them through tight situations all season, gave up 24 runs in the series. The offense produced only 6 runs and a batting average of .145. The Tigers have lost 11 of their last 13 games and have dropped into a tie for first with Boston.

It was the last game Milwaukee will play against an Eastern Division team. Those who believe the Brewers won’t go all the way cite this as a major reason. Instead of playing the faltering Tigers, Boston Red Sox, and New York Yankees, the Brewers will be playing relaxed West teams and the outstanding Oakland Athletics, who they will face six times.

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But Milwaukee has played more games than the three teams ahead of them, and that may be in the Brewers’ favor. They have played four more than the Tigers and Red Sox and six more than the Yankees. With all three of those clubs playing at a pace below .300 in the last two weeks, that should be to Milwaukee’s advantage.

The Brewers will have 5 days off in the last four weeks. The rest will have just 2 or 3.

The Tigers’ problems continue to mount. They learned that Lou Whitaker, who injured his knee Saturday night while dancing with his wife, will be out at least 10 days with a ligament problem. Whitaker said it popped when he was doing the splits.

Through 4 innings Walt Terrell (7-12) held the Brewers to 1 hit. But in the fifth, he walked two batters before Surhoff hit his fourth home run into the upper deck in right and the Brewers were rolling.

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“I would think it’s going to take at least 90 (victories) to win it,” Milwaukee Manager Tom Trebelhorn said after his team won its 73rd. “That’s if none of the teams above us take off.

“Right now, I would like to have some games left with Detroit, Boston and New York, but there’s nothing we can do about that. We have to go out and just keep winning. The rest will take care of itself.”

The Tigers--playing without Alan Trammell and Jeff Robinson, who are both injured--can’t explain what has happened.

“In my 10 years here, I don’t remember playing and losing the way we have during this stretch,” third baseman Tom Brookens said. “One day, we’re going to show up and it will happen. You’ve just got to tell yourself that it’s going to turn around.”

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Oakland 11, New York 2--Dave Stewart held the Yankees to four hits in seven innings at Oakland to breeze to his 17th victory and increase the Athletics’ lead in the West to 9 1/2 games over Minnesota with only 25 games remaining.

Dave Parker and Dave Henderson led the assault on the hapless Yankee pitching staff. Each hit a home run and Jose Canseco drove in 3 runs to increase his major league-leading total to 107.

Yankee pitcher Richard Dotson was gone before he got anyone out in the third inning. He gave up 6 runs and 7 hits. He has compiled a 9.12 ERA in losing his last five starts.

Overall, the Yankee staff has compiled an earned-run average of 6.55 over the last 26 games. In 18 of those games, opposing clubs reached double figures in hits.

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Although the Yankees were 2-7 on their final trip West, they return home only four games out of first place.

However, a team that has won only 12 of its last 36 games, can’t be very optimistic.

Toronto 9, Texas 7--It would be impossible to convince the Blue Jays that miracles don’t happen.

They trailed hard-throwing Bobby Witt, 6-0, in the eighth inning at Toronto, so it must have been a miracle.

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Rance Mulliniks’ two-run double was the highlight of a five-run eighth inning that made it close.

The miracle, though, came with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning when George Bell hit a grand slam off Mitch Williams.

The sensational comeback reinforced the Blue Jays’ belief that they are still in the pennant race in the East. They are only 6 1/2 games out of first place.

Kansas City 3, Minnesota 2--George Brett provided the big hit at Minneapolis and rookie reliever Israel Sanchez came through with a sharp performance as the Royals dealt another blow to the world champions.

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Brett doubled in a run to break a 2-2 tie in the fifth and Sanchez (2-1) held the Twins to one hit in 4 innings.

Cleveland 3-2, Chicago 2-5--When they took a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning of the second game at Cleveland after winning the opener on Dave Clark’s homer in the ninth, the Indians were getting ready to claim a spot in the wild race for the pennant in the East.

But Harold Baines’ RBI triple keyed a four-run ninth inning against bullpen ace Doug Jones and the Indians, instead of being only 8 games out of first, are 9.

Baltimore 6, Seattle 4--Billy Ripken and Joe Orsulak each hit a two-run home run at Seattle to spark the Orioles to the victory. Tom Niedenfuer pitched a perfect ninth to earn his 17th save.

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