While the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians race for playoff spots, Albert Belle and Frank Thomas chase for something that might be even more special.
With only four days left before the probable start of a players' strike, the White Sox hold a one-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central. And the gap between Belle and Thomas for a possible Triple Crown is just as close.Belle, in his first at-bat since serving a seven-game suspension, hit a 439-foot homer over the Green Monster at Fenway Park. He wound up going 3-for-7 and driving in three runs as Cleveland beat the Red Sox 15-10 in 12 innings for a doubleheader split.
Belle, who was ejected in the 12th inning for arguing a fair-or-foul call, is batting .360 with 36 home runs and 101 RBIs.
Thomas hit a two-run double as Chicago defeated California 10-5 in 12 innings. He left the game with a bruised middle finger on his left hand, but was not expected to miss any action.
Thomas is hitting .362 with 38 home runs and 101 RBIs. He leads the league in batting average and is tied with Ken Griffey Jr. for the homer lead; Kirby Puckett leads the AL with 104 RBIs.
White Sox 10, Angels 5, 12 innings
Mike LaValliere tied the game in the ninth inning with his first home run in nearly two years and Chicago went on to win at Anaheim.
Athletics 8, Rangers 3
Oakland pulled within 11/2 games of AL West-leading Texas by completing a three-game sweep at home. The Rangers lost for the sixth time in eight games.
Rickey Henderson homered on the first pitch in the first inning, extending his record of leadoff homers to 66.
Mariners 10, Royals 6
Ken Griffey hit his 38th home run, tying Frank Thomas for the league lead, and Seattle rallied past Kansas City.
Twins 7, Yankees 6
Kent Hrbek's two-out, two-run single in the eighth inning lifted Minnesota over New York at the Metrodome.
Hrbek also had an RBI double. He is batting .545 and has driven in seven runs in four games since announcing Thursday that he will retire at the end of the year.
Tigers 8, Blue Jays 7
Kirk Gibson hit a two-run homer on a 3-0 pitch with two outs in the eighth inning and Detroit won at the SkyDome.
Orioles 6, Brewers 3
Mike Mussina won his 16th game and Baltimore defeated Milwaukee at County Stadium.
Mussina (16-5) gave up six hits in eight innings. Lee Smith allowed a solo home run to Turner Ward in the ninth.
Expos 6, Phillies 4
Unfortunately, the two most successful seasons in Montreal Expos' history may be footnoted by strikes.
The Expos won their first and only division title in 1981 when a 50-day player walkout shortened that season. Now, with the Aug. 12 deadline drawing nearer, the team with the best record in baseball may not get a chance to prove its mettle.
Montreal did assure itself of being in first place on the probable strike date Sunday with a 6-4 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies.
Pirates 6, Cardinals 5
At Pittsburgh, Jay Bell grounded an RBI single up the middle in the ninth inning against a drawn-in St. Louis infield for his fifth hit of the game.
Marlins 2, Mets 0
At New York, Ryan Bowen, making his first start in nearly three months, allowed just two hits in 7 1-3 innings and scored the game's first run.
Reds 3, Braves 2
At Cincinnati, Kevin Mitchell hit his 30th homer, one of three by Cincinnati, and Pete Schourek pitched seven strong innings.
Padres 5, Cubs 1
At Chicago, Tony Gwynn went 3-for-5 with a homer to raise his major league-leading average to .392. Scott Livingstone went 4-for-5 to lead the Padres' 17-hit attack.
Dodgers 6, Rockies 2
At Denver, Orel Hershiser did not allow a hit until the sixth inning and Eric Karros and Henry Rodriguez hit consecutive homers as the Dodgers won their third straight before 70,372.
Astros 7, Giants 4
At Houston, Doug Drabek pitched seven solid innings and Ken Caminiti drove in two runs in Houston's four-run third inning as the Astros won their sixth straight.