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Bournigal’s Rare Homer Powers Athletics

<i> From Associated Press</i>

He won’t be mistaken for Mark McGwire any time soon, but after hitting a key home run, little Rafael Bournigal won’t be surprised if he hears from his former teammate.

“He might be giving me a call because I think he’s just going to laugh so hard when he sees that,” said Bournigal, whose three-run homer--only his second in 665 career at-bats--helped Kenny Rogers and the Athletics beat the Kansas City Royals, 3-2, Saturday at Oakland.

“It might take me another 500 at-bats to hit another one.”

The fifth-inning homer off the left-field scoreboard came against Glendon Rusch (1-3).

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“I was trying to throw a fastball to the outside part of the plate and get a ground ball,” Rusch said. “I’m not going to blow anybody away. Then I throw a pitch down the middle and he hits it out.”

Bournigal was only playing because regular second baseman Scott Spiezio was scratched because of a rib cage injury.

“I told Spiezio he’s a team man all the way to let Bournigal go in and win the game for us,” Oakland Manager Art Howe said.

“We’re a better hitting team than we’ve shown so far,” Howe said, “and if we can continue to get good pitching games like this, we’ll get on track.”

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Bournigal’s home run came with two outs after Kurt Abbott doubled and Mike Macfarlane walked.

Rogers (2-1) gave up two runs on five hits. Billy Taylor pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth and got three outs in the ninth for his second save.

Toronto 9, Chicago 4--Despite pitching with a sore right elbow, Pat Hentgen, who has never missed a scheduled start in his seven-year career, rebounded from one of his worst starts as the Blue Jays beat the White Sox at Toronto.

Jose Canseco homered as the Blue Jays won consecutive games for the first time this season.

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Hentgen (2-1) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings before he experienced the same elbow soreness that forced him to miss his last start during spring training.

The right-hander has made 160 consecutive starts, a streak which began on Oct. 6, 1991, against Minnesota.

“Pat Hentgen knows his arm as well as I know my wife,” Toronto Manager Tim Johnson said. “He says it’s a little stiff, but that he’s not going to miss his next start.”

Had the elbow flared up on Hentgen earlier in his career, he’s sure he would have tried to pitch through the pain.

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“I had a long [sixth] inning and it stiffened up on me,” said Hentgen, who allowed eight runs and six hits in three innings against Kansas City in his last start. “It was a good decision on my part. I think five years ago I would probably try to throw through that. I know my elbow and I know my arm.”

Canseco’s seventh home run--a 434-foot shot to dead center in the third--tied him with Ken Griffey Jr. for the American League lead. Canseco’s second homer in consecutive days gave the Blue Jays a 4-1 lead.

“It seems like every time I hit the ball, I hit a home run,” Canseco said. “We’re getting some good pitching and some defense.”

Frank Thomas hit two solo homers for the White Sox. Albert Belle, batting in the fifth spot for the first time this season, went one for four and has six hits in his last 50 at-bats (.120).

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White Sox starter Jaime Navarro (1-2) allowed eight runs--five earned--and nine hits in 6 1/3 innings.

New York 8, Detroit 3--One old ballpark is just as good as another for the Yankees, who won for the 12th time in a row at Tiger Stadium and David Cone got his first win of the season.

Yankee Manager Joe Torre isn’t sure why his team has been so successful in Detroit’s 86-year-old ballpark.

“Things like that just go in streaks,” Torre said. “When I was managing in St. Louis, we went three years without winning a game in San Diego. And this team has trouble winning in Seattle. We’ve just been lucky enough to be playing really well the last few times we have come here.”

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The Yankees have now won eight games in a row, the Yankees’ longest win streak since winning 10 in a row in 1994.

The Tigers (3-12) lost their seventh straight.

“This is so uncharacteristic of this team,” said Tiger Manager Buddy Bell. “Most of the time, when you go into a tailspin, you can count on something to get you out of it. That’s just not happening right now. We desperately need something good to happen.”

The series between the teams was moved to Detroit because of the closure of Yankee Stadium.

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Saturday marked the 75th anniversary of Yankee Stadium. The first game was played there April 18, 1923.

Cone (1-1) came into the game with a 14.90 earned-run average and struggled early. But Tino Martinez bailed him out with an outstanding play in the first inning, and Cone ended up allowing only two runs in 5 2/3 innings.

“This is huge for me, I really needed to get that first win,” Cone said. “I caught a couple breaks early in the game, especially that play by Tino. They had guys on first and third with one out, and he turns what looks like a hit into a 3-6-3 double play. After that, I was able to make some adjustments and settle down.”

Cleveland 7, Boston 4--This time, it was the Indians who finished strong, scoring four runs in the ninth at Boston.

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The previous day, the Red Sox rallied to beat the Indians in 10 innings--Boston’s fifth victory in its last at-bat during a seven-game winning streak.

“You’ve just got to keep swinging against Boston because they’ve shown everyone this past week that they won’t quit,” said designated hitter David Justice, who doubled in the ninth to drive in two insurance runs. “I’m just glad we got those runs because they were threatening right to the end.”

Cleveland took a 3-2 lead in the eighth when Manny Ramirez singled to drive in two runs. But Boston tied it in the bottom half on John Valentin’s RBI single.

In the ninth, Omar Vizquel doubled home the tie-breaking run and scored on Shawon Dunston’s single. Justice’s double made the score, 7-3.

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The Red Sox, who won their first seven games at Fenway Park to match their best home start ever, scored one in the bottom half when Troy O’Leary hit his second homer of the game.

Scott Hatteberg singled and Darren Bragg walked before Mike Jackson retired the last three batters, striking our Nomar Garciaparra with runners on second and third to end the game and earn his seventh save.

Seattle 5, Minnesota 3--Alex Rodriguez went four for four with a homer and triple and scored three runs as the Mariners beat the Twins at Seattle for their fourth straight victory.

Edgar Martinez, who had been in a three-for-16 slump, doubled, singled twice and drove in three runs for the Mariners.

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Bobby Ayala, the fourth Seattle pitcher, worked the ninth for his third save. Mariner relievers have converted their last three save chances after starting the season with four blown saves.

Seattle’s Joey Cora went 0 for four after getting a hit in Seattle’s first 16 games this season.

Mariner starter Ken Cloude (2-1) gave up solo home runs to Matt Lawton and David Ortiz. Cloude allowed five hits and three runs in five innings.


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