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AMERICAN LEAGUE ROUNDUP : It Takes a Long Time (4:51), but Tigers Find a Way to Lose to A’s

The Detroit Tigers’ amazing bid for the division title in the American League East seems to be fading in the West.

They might look back on the 9-8 defeat Saturday at Oakland as the crowning blow.

The Tigers, after losing a 6-0 lead in the sixth inning against the three-time league champion Athletics, finally lost the game in the 10th when a fly ball was lost in the late-afternoon sun.

Tony Phillips, normally an infielder, was playing right field and he was unable to find Mark McGwire’s drive with one out in the extra inning. Jose Canseco, who had walked to start the rally, raced home from second without a play to end the long, drawn-out game.

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With 12 pitchers walking 22 batters, giving up 23 hits and the teams stranding 28 runners, it took 4 hours 22 minutes to play nine innings. The record for a nine-inning game is 4:18. It took 4:51 to complete the 10 innings.

A large part of the sellout crowd of 43,726, which booed the A’s earlier, stayed around to cheer the ending.

It was the fourth loss in a row on the trip to the coast and it dropped the Tigers 3 1/2 games behind Toronto, which shut out the New York Yankees.

The Tigers’ biggest weakness, a worn-out bullpen, once again deprived them of a potential victory.

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Walt Terrell, in recent weeks the Tigers’ best pitcher, gave up just two hits in five innings and was leading, 6-0, when he lost it all of a sudden.

Manager Sparky Anderson’s reluctance to use his weary relief corps probably cost the Tigers. The Tigers’ bullpen, suspect at best, became a liability when its top pitcher, Mike Henneman, was put on the disabled list a week ago with a sore shoulder.

The obviously tiring Terrell was permitted to pitch to five batters, all of whom reached base. It led to a seven-run inning that put the Athletics ahead.

In the seventh the Tigers pulled ahead again, but couldn’t hold it once more. They wound up using John Cerutti, normally starter, in relief, and he was the loser when Phillips lost the ball in the sun.

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“I knew I was in trouble as I went out there because the sun was directly in my face,” Phillips said. “If it was hit to either side I could have played it. I saw it go up, and then I lost it.”

Cerutti put himself in trouble when he threw wildly to second trying to get a force on Canseco on a sacrifice attempt.

Dennis Eckersley worked out of a jam in the top of the 10th and was the winner.

Supposedly the ball carries better at Oakland Coliseum in the daytime. But there were six homers Friday night and none Saturday.

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Toronto 5, New York 0--Jimmy Key knew it was no time to miss a starting assignment, so he showed up as usual at New York to face his favorite foe.

The veteran left-hander, unable to throw a breaking pitch because of a painful stiff neck, struggled through five innings, giving up just two hits and improving his record to 14-9. He is 7-1 lifetime in Yankee Stadium.

“I woke up this morning and it hurt so much I could hardly remember my name,” Key said. “I thought with the weather so hot it would loosen up when I warmed up.

“It didn’t. The neck kept knotting up and I could hardly throw a breaking ball at all.”

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Mike Timlin and Duane Ward finished up the three-hit shutout that enabled the Blue Jays to keep the pressure on Detroit in the East.

“Key really gutted it out to work five innings,” Blue Jay Manager Gene Tenace said. “We did not want him to change his motion to compensate for the neck and wind up hurting his arm.”

Minnesota 5, Baltimore 2--Kevin Tapani has emerged as the stopper for the Twins.

Tapani (13-7) gave up five hits in seven innings at Minneapolis to win his eighth in a row and keep the Twins seven games in front in the West.

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It was 1-1 until the sixth when rookie Chuck Knoblauch hit his first major league home run. The second baseman made his first one a big one, hitting it in his 451st major league at-bat.

Chili Davis, emerging from a deep slump, was two for two and scored a run.

In his last 18 starts, Tapani is 11-1. During that span he has an earned-run average of 2.35.

Rick Aguilera, after getting Chito Martinez to pop out with the bases loaded to end the eighth, picked up his 36th save in his 43rd chance.

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Boston 4, Seattle 1--Roger Clemens pitched a four-hitter at Seattle and took over the major league lead in strikeouts.

Clemens (14-8) struck out eight to run his total to 191. He retired the last 12 Mariners in order in his second consecutive sharp outing. In his previous start he shut out Oakland on three hits.

The only Seattle run was Edgar Martinez’s 12th home run in the third inning.

Mike Greenwell doubled, Tom Brunansky tripled and Mo Vaughn doubled in the sixth to put Boston ahead.

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Chicago 10, Cleveland 5--It may be too late to get them back in the race, but the White Sox appear to be out of their slump.

Scott Fletcher and Robin Ventura each drove in three runs at Chicago and Frank Thomas hit his 28th home run to lead the White Sox to only their second victory in the last 12 games.

After the Indians chased Charlie Hough and took a 5-1 lead in the second inning, the White Sox bullpen held them to two hits in the last seven innings. Donn Pall (6-2) went five innings to get the victory.

The White Sox announced that Bo Jackson would be activated Monday and start that night against the Royals as the designated hitter.

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Kansas City 3, Texas 2--Kirk Gibson hit his 16th home run, a tie-breaking shot in the sixth inning at Arlington, Tex., giving the Royals the victory.

In an injury-filled season a year ago, Gibson hit only eight for the Dodgers.

Mark Gubicza (8-7) managed to last 5 1/3 innings for the victory.


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