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RUMOR FINALLY TURNS INTO REALITY AS STRAWBERRY BECOMES A YANK

SHARE RUMOR FINALLY TURNS INTO REALITY AS STRAWBERRY BECOMES A YANK

Darryl Strawberry's long-rumored return to the majors became a reality Friday night when the Yankees promoted him from the minors and put him into the starting lineup against Detroit.

He batted sixth as the designated hitter and went 1-for-4, singling in his first at-bat, popping out to second in the fourth, flying out to center in the sixth and striking out swinging against lefty Kevin Wickander in the eighth during a 4-1 victory over Detroit."I just want to take full advantage of the opportunity and play baseball and not be a distraction to the New York Yankees," he said at Tiger Stadium.

But Strawberry, who brings a history of cocaine abuse and tax evasion along with his 294 career home runs, already was creating mixed emotions even before his first game.

To make room for Strawberry, the Yankees designated leadoff hitter Luis Polonia for assignment. That means they have 10 days to trade or make another move with Polonia, a left fielder and one of the few Yankees with speed.

"We knew Darryl was coming, but the bad part of it is we lose somebody that's been a part of the club for two or three years," Yankees captain Don Mattingly said.

"He has a chance to help this club," Mattingly added. "He has power, and that's what we're looking for him to give us."

"It's a great opportunity for myself being able to be back in the big leagues," Strawberry, 33, said. "It's been a very difficult ride, but I'm very grateful Mr. Steinberg has given me the opportunity."

Actually, he meant Steinbrenner, as in owner George Steinbrenner, who was the one who most wanted to bring the former New York Mets star back to town.

Indians 13, White Sox 3

At Cleveland, Manny Ramirez hit his first career grand slam, Cleveland's second in three games, and Paul Sorrento also homered as the Indians overpowered the Chicago White Sox.

The game got so lopsided that acting Chicago manager Joe Nossek brought in outfielder Dave Martinez to pitch the eighth inning.

Red Sox 7, Blue Jays 1

At Toronto, Boston scored two runs in the eighth inning against three rookie relievers, then added four more in the ninth for a victory over Toronto

The late rally broke open a game that was tied 1-1 after seven innings. John Valentin and Mo Vaughn began the eighth with walks off Jimmy Rogers (0-1), Tim Crabtree then walked Jose Canseco and struck out Mike Greenwell before walking Tim Naehring to force in the go-ahead run.

Brewers 12, Orioles 4

At Baltimore, Dave Nilsson's second career grand slam highlighted an eight-run fourth inning that carried Milwaukee past slumping Baltimore.

Royals 12, Twins 4

At Minneapolis, Edgar Caceres hit his first major league home run, a three-run shot in the eighth that put Kansas City ahead for good, and the Royals went on to a victory over the Minnesota Twins.

In the ninth, Gary Gaetti hit a three-run homer, his 23rd, and Phil Hiatt added a two-run blast.

Rangers 6, Angels 4

At Anaheim, Calif., the Texas Rangers, opening a four-game series against the team that leads them by 11 games in the AL West, beat California behind Mickey Tettleton's tie-breaking homer in the eighth inning.

Athletics 9, Mariners 8

At Oakland, Calif., Rickey Henderson hit a bases-loaded infield single in the bottom of the ninth inning to give Oakland the victory.

National League

Astros 6, Pirates 5, 1st game

Astros 5, Pirates 4, 2nd game

At Pittsburgh, Derek Bell drove in three runs with a go-ahead homer, double and single as Houston completed a doubleheader sweep over Pittsburgh.

The Astros have swept both doubleheaders against the Pirates this season.

Braves 4, Expos 3

At Montreal, Greg Maddux won his career-high 10th straight game as Atlanta beat Montreal.

Maddux (12-1), who leads the National League in wins and ERA at 1.74, allowed three runs on seven hits in 8-plus innings.

Marlins 7, Mets 2

At New York, Jeff Conine and Kurt Abbott each drove in two runs as Florida Marlins won its franchise-high seventh straight, beating New York.

John Burkett (9-10) gave up eight hits and two runs in five innings to win for the third time in four decisions.

Reds 1, Phillies 0

At Cincinnati, John Smiley, weakened by a stomach virus and a groin pull, pitched six shutout innings to lead Cincinnati over Philadelphia.

Smiley (11-1) allowed just two hits as he won his sixth consecutive decision and remained unbeaten in nine starts since June 16.

Cubs 5, Cardinals 3

At St. Louis, Steve Trachsel retired 12 in a row and won his first game in almost a month, and Ozzie Timmons hit a two-run homer as the Chicago Cubs beat the St. Louis Cardinals.

Rockies 14, Padres 12

At Denver, Joe Girardi and Dante Bichette each homered and drove in four and three runs, respectively, as the Colorado Rockies outslugged the San Diego Padres.

Bichette had four hits, extending his hitting streak to 16 games. During that streak, he's hit 11 homers.

Giants 15, Dodgers 1

At San Francisco, William VanLandingham allowed one run in seven innings and hit his first major league homer, and Mark Carreon had a career-high five RBI, as San Francisco routed Los Angeles.