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CONE KEEPS HIS HEAD AND PRESERVES VICTORY

SHARE CONE KEEPS HIS HEAD AND PRESERVES VICTORY

Forget winning the game. David Cone was happy to still have his head.

Cone became the AL's first nine-game winner Tuesday night as Kansas City rallied for five runs in the sixth inning for a 7-3 victory over Baltimore.Cone gave up five hits and two runs in eight innings. But his biggest accomplishment may have been withstanding two line drive shots through the box.

In the third inning, Cone was hit on the left knee by a liner off the bat of Mark McLemore. Then, in the eighth, Rafael Palmeiro nearly decapitated Cone with another line drive.

"I'm just happy to be alive," said Cone (9-2). "I'm just happy to be here talking to you guys. One hit off my knee. One whizzed right by my ear.

"I didn't even see it, but I heard it. I didn't even move my head until I heard it was by me. I would have been flopping around on the turf like a dead fish."

Cone had won eight straight before losing a game and getting a no-decision in his last start June 1 at Boston. Last season, he finished with an 11-14 mark despite a 3.33 ERA.

Cone joined Atlanta's Greg Maddux as baseball's only nine-game winners.

Chico Lind and Wally Joyner each hit two-run singles in the sixth for the Royals, who prevented Ben McDonald from getting his ninth win.

McDonald (8-4), who was knocked out in the sixth, was making his first start since he sustained a groin injury on May 28. McDonald, who had missed a start because of the injury, gave up six runs and eight hits.

Red Sox 5, Tigers 1

At Detroit, Roger Clemens struck out a season-high 12 and Rich Rowland hit a two-run homer as Boston ended a four-game skid.

Clemens (6-2), who gave up one run and four hits in seven innings, struck out seven in the first three innings.

Clemens yielded only Mickey Tettleton's ninth homer in the seventh.

Blue Jays 9, White Sox 5

At Chicago, Wilson Alvarez had his 15-game winning streak stopped as Toronto scored in each of the first six innings.

Roberto Alomar hit a two-run homer and an RBI single as the Blue Jays handed Alvarez (8-1) his first loss since Aug. 11.

Alvarez, who won his last seven regular-season decisions in 1993 and Game 3 of the ALCS, shared the club record with LaMarr Hoyt, who won 15 straight games in 1983-84.

Rangers 10, Yankees 9

At Arlington, Texas, David Hulse and Jose Canseco each homered to key a six-run first inning as the Rangers outlasted the Yankees.

Will Clark also homered and Esteban Beltre went 3-for-4 with two RBI as Texas won for the seventh time in nine games.

Don Mattingly, Paul O'Neill and Bernie Williams homered for the Yankees, who have dropped five of six.

Athletics 6, Brewers 5

At Oakland, Calif., Ruben Sierra's second homer of the game snapped an eighth-inning tie for the A's, who had blown a 5-0 lead.

Mariners 9, Indians 5

At Seattle, Felix Fermin hit an RBI single and pinch-hitter Torey Lovullo added a three-run homer in the eighth inning.

Jay Buhner doubled off Derek Lilliquist (1-2) and Brian Turang's sacrifice put Buhner at third. Mike Blowers walked and Fermin hit an infield single off Jose Mesa to make it 6-5.

Ken Griffey Jr. hit his major league-leading 24th homer and Tino Martinez also homered for the Mariners, who lead the majors with 83.

Twins 8, Angels 6

At Anaheim, Calif., Dave Winfield's two-run single capped a two-out rally in the eighth.

Trailing 5-4, pinch-hitter Chip Hale and Chuck Knoblauch delivered two-out singles off Mark Leiter (3-4).

Joe Grahe came in and hit the first two batters he faced, Shane Mack and Kirby Puckett, to force in the tying run. Winfield then lined a single to center to give the Twins a 7-5 lead.

Mark Guthrie (4-1) worked out of a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh, and Rick Aguilera pitched the ninth for his 12th save.

Scott Leius drove in three runs for the Twins.