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CAP OF EXPO HARD-LUCK PITCHER WILL WIND UP IN COOPERSTOWN

While there's a debate as to whether Mark Gardner should get credit for a no-hitter, the people at the Hall of Fame think his effort against Los Angeles is good enough to earn a spot at Cooperstown.

The Hall of Fame has secured the cap Gardner wore during his nine-inning no-hitter. He gave up two singles leading off the 10th and Montreal eventually lost the game 1-0.The Sporting News record book and Baseball Encyclopedia will credit Gardner with a no-hitter, but the Elias Book of Baseball Records has a separate list of pitchers who lost no-hitters in extra innings. Included in the Elias list of pitchers in no-hit limbo is Harvey Haddix, who pitched 12 perfect innings for Pittsburgh against Milwaukee on May 26, 1959.

In early September, an eight-man committee for statistical accuracy, chaired by Fay Vincent will meet to consider just where Gardner and the others stand. It doesn't mean there will be a decision, though.

At the meeting, Vincent will also ask that the the asterisk next to Roger Maris' 61 home runs be removed.

Serving with Vincent on the committee are Rich Levin, director of public relations for the commissioner's office; Michael Bernstein, manager of publishing of Major League Baseball Properties; Seymour Siwoff, general manager of the Elias Sports Bureau; Jack Lang, executive secretary of the Baseball Writers Association of America; Joseph Durso, a reporter for The New York Times; George Kirsch, professor of history at Manhattan College in New York, and David Voigt, professor of sociology at Albright College in Reading Pa.

DID YOU NOTICE . . . Frank Thomas of the Chicago White Sox is emerging as a leading candidate for American League MVP. Thomas is among the leader in seven offensive categories and leads the league in on-base percentage. . . .

When Kansas City beat Milwaukee on Thursday, all the teams in the AL West were at .500 or better. . . .

Cecil Fielder is now on a pace to hit 48 home runs. In 10 months as a Tiger, Fielder has not had fewer than 18 RBIs in any month. . . .

Ozzie Smith reached 100 hits for the 14th consecutive season. The only other active players who have 14 or more seasons with 100 or more hits are George Brett , Robin Yount and Dave Winfield , and Eddie Murray and Andre Dawson . . . .

Otis Nixon has set a Braves record for stolen bases in a season, breaking the mark of 57 set by Ralph Myers in 1913. . . .

The Boston Red Sox' nine-game losing streak at Fenway Park was their longest at home since also losing nine in a row from June 21-July 4, 1927. . . .

Seattle had four consecutive doubles in the seventh inning on Monday against Baltimore. The major league record of five was set by the Washington Senators against Boston on June 9, 1934. . . .

Matt Nokes' 20 home runs represents the highest total by a New York Yankees catcher since Thurman Munson also hit 20 in 1973. It's the most by a Yankees left-handed hitting catcher since Yogi Berra had 23 in 1957. . . .

The Los Angeles Dodgers now have four key members of the New York Mets' 1986 World Series championship team - Darryl Strawberry, Gary Carter, Bob Ojeda and Roger McDowell. Juan Samuel and John Candelaria are also former Mets. . . .

Speaking with Roy Firestone on ESPN this week, Frank Viola said it bothers him that the Mets have a policy banning children of players from the clubhouse at Shea Stadium. Look for Viola to sign with the Yankees or Padres.

STAT CORNER . . . Jack Clark has hit 18 home runs in extra innings in his career, second on the all-time list. Willie Mays is the leader with 22 and Babe Ruth is third with 16. . . .

Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Vetura hit 12 home runs in July. . . . The White Sox have won 25 games this season in their final at-bat. . . .

Toronto's Tom Henke entered the weekend with 22 saves in 22 opportunities. . . .

Chili Davis of Minnesota hit his 24th homer in his 360th at-bat. Last season for California, he hit 12 homers in 412 at-bats. . . .

Seattle reliever Mike Jackson has blown five straight save opportunities. . . .

Walt Terrell of Detroit is 45-18 lifetime at Tiger Stadium.