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AMERICAN LEAGUE ROUNDUP : White Sox Sweat It Out but Retain Lead

From Associated Press

If the Chicago White Sox have to go out, they want to go out on top. Keeping sole possession of the American League Central lead in their final game before Friday’s anticipated strike wasn’t easy, though.

The White Sox defeated the Oakland Athletics, 2-1, on Wednesday at Oakland, hanging onto the lead for the last five innings knowing that the second-place Cleveland Indians had defeated the Toronto Blue Jays.

“We knew Cleveland won, and we knew we had to win,” starter Jason Bere (12-2) said. “We knew Oakland was going to play us tough because they’re in a race with Texas. We knew what was at stake.”

The White Sox lead the Indians by one game.

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Julio Franco scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch in the fourth and drove in another run later.

With the loss, the Athletics, who can still catch the Texas Rangers with a victory today against the Seattle Mariners, missed a chance to gain ground on the Rangers, who lost to the Mariners. Oakland starter Steve Ontiveros (6-4) pitched a five-hitter but didn’t get any offensive help.

Chicago’s pitchers spent the game eluding trouble.

Bere, who hasn’t lost since June 18, pitched with runners on base in every inning but the first. He went 5 2/3 innings, giving up six hits, striking out three and walking two before giving way to Jose DeLeon.

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Cleveland 5, Toronto 3--Jason Grimsley pitched six strong innings at Toronto to win for the fourth time in five starts.

Grimsley (5-2) gave up seven hits and two runs over six innings. Eric Plunk pitched three innings for his third save.

Juan Guzman (12-11) fell to 0-3 against the Indians this season after going 6-0 against them in his first three seasons.

Jim Thome went three for four and Kenny Lofton got stolen base No. 60 for the Indians.

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Minnesota 17, Boston 7--Kirby Puckett hit a grand slam and a three-run homer at Minneapolis, and the Twins made retiring Kent Hrbek’s possible finale a grand one as they rolled to their fifth consecutive victory.

The Red Sox suffered their fourth consecutive loss despite two home runs by Rich Rowland and one by Mo Vaughn.

The Twins led, 9-7, before scoring eight runs in the seventh.

The seven RBIs for Puckett tied his career high. Puckett has an AL-high 112 RBIs, ninth-most in team history.

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Orioles 8, Yankees 1--Rafael Palmeiro drove in five runs with four hits to back the pitching of Ben McDonald as the Orioles roughed up Jimmy Key at New York.

Palmeiro had two singles, a two-run double and a three-run homer while McDonald (14-7) held the Yankees to five hits. He struck out two and didn’t walk a batter in 7 1/3 innings before leaving because of a mild cramp in his right forearm.

Palmeiro’s first three hits came against Key (17-4), who gave up 10 hits, four runs, one walk and struck out five in seven innings.

Seattle 3, Texas 2--Mike Blowers homered in the 10th inning at Arlington, Tex., to help the Mariners deny the Rangers a chance to clinch first place in the AL West before the impending strike.

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Blowers homered against Tom Henke (3-6). The Rangers have lost six in a row.

Bill Risley (9-6) pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief, and Bobby Ayala pitched the 10th for his 18th save.

Seattle, playing its 19th consecutive road game because of a damaged ceiling at the Kingdome, has won a season-high five in a row.

Detroit 4, Milwaukee 0--David Wells pitched a three-hitter for his first shutout and Cecil Fielder had two RBIs at Toronto.

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Wells, relying mostly on fastballs, retired 15 consecutive batters before Greg Vaughn hit a two-out single in the ninth inning.


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