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American League : Healthy A’s Put Hurt on Orioles

After sending the leaders of the American League East into a tailspin, it appears the Oakland Athletics are ready to take on the leaders of the West.

The injury problem is a thing of the past as the Athletics, .002 percentage points behind the amazing Angels, take on their downstate rivals in a three-game series beginning tonight at Oakland.

Slugger Jose Canseco, who said he was “fatigued” Saturday night, hit a two-run home run and bullpen ace Dennis Eckersley pitched another perfect inning Sunday at Oakland as the Athletics completed a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 3-2 victory.

Canseco hit 42 home runs, drove in 124 runs and stole 40 bases when he was healthy last season. He has played in only nine games this season, missing the first 86 with a broken wrist. He says he is only about 60 to 70% healthy.

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Tell it to Jeff Ballard. In the fourth inning, after a walk to Lance Blankenship, Canseco hit a 479-foot home run. It was his fifth home run in 31 at-bats this season.

“When I came up, I was thinking to myself this guy’s luck is going to run out,” Canseco said. “I’ve got to hit one where they can’t catch it.”

For Eckersley, who missed almost two months with a shoulder injury, it marked the first time he pitched in back-to-back games. In all five outings he has been perfect.

It was the fifth loss in a row for the Orioles, who were showing signs of having pitching and run-scoring problems before they ran afoul of the defending league champions.

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Cleveland 17, Kansas City 5--People who weren’t even around before this month are leading the Indians’ drive into contention in the East.

Newcomers Dion James, Joey Belle and Brad Komminsk combined for 13 runs batted in at Kansas City to lead the rout that brought the Indians within six games of Baltimore.

James, acquired from Atlanta July 2, was 4 for 5, including a home run, and drove in five runs. Belle, brought up from Double A ball on July 15, was 2 for 3 and drove in four. Komminsk came up from Triple A and first appeared July 1. He was only 2 for 5, but he homered and drove in four runs.

In 15 games, James is 22 for 59 (.372), has scored 10 runs, driven in 11 and hit two home runs. In 17 games, Komminsk is 18 for 56 (.321), has scored eight runs, driven in 19 and hit four home runs. Belle, the only young prospect in the trio, has played in just nine games. He is 10 for 35 (.287), has scored six runs, driven in nine runs and hit one home run.

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Texas 5, New York 4--Rafael Palmiero scored the winning run on Jesse Barfield’s 10th-inning throwing error as the Rangers rallied to beat the Yankees at Arlington, Tex.

The loss was the sixth in a row for the Yankees, while Texas has won six of seven, including a four-game sweep of the Yankees.

New York’s Chuck Cary had a 4-0 lead and was one out away from a one-hit shutout when Scott Fletcher doubled home Rick Leach, who had walked. Julio Franco followed with a run-scoring single and Ruben Sierra homered to tie the score.

Bobby Witt (9-8) pitched a four-hitter for the Rangers, striking out 11.

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Boston 8, Chicago 2--The streak has come to an end for the White Sox, but the optimism is back.

Fire-balling Roger Clemens (11-7) checked the hot hitting White Sox at Boston and the spurt stopped at eight in a row. The White Sox had not lost since before the All-Star game but Clemens stifled them for seven innings.

Randy Kutcher, getting a chance to play because Dwight Evans is ailing, drove in four runs with his first home run and a single.

Milwaukee 4, Minnesota 1--Frank Viola had his home run ball working at Milwaukee and the Brewers hammered him into submission.

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Greg Brock and Glenn Braggs hit consecutive home runs in the fourth inning to hand Viola his 11th defeat. Rob Deer hit his 24th and Robin Yount also homered. In his previous 96 innings, Viola had given up only three home runs.

Seattle 5, Toronto 2--Trying to beat Randy Johnson and continue their surge into contention in the East proved too tall an order for the Blue Jays at Seattle.

The 6-10 left-hander from USC struck out a career high 12 and pitched a five-hitter to improve his record to 4-2.

The Blue Jays, after splitting the four-game series, trail Baltimore by six games.

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