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ALL-STAR HURLER PAVLIK LOWERS ERA TO 4.82

Exhibit A in "Reasons Why Roger Pavlik Shouldn't Have Been An All-Star" was his 5.16 earned run average.

Despite allowing a season-high 12 hits to the California Angels on Wednesday night, Pavlik did something about the ERA problem in the Texas Rangers' 8-1 rout, lowering it to 4.82 while pitching his sixth complete game, easily the best in the majors.Pavlik rightfully credited his teammates for helping him to an 11-2 record and an All-Star berth. The Rangers have averaged 71/2 runs in his 18 starts.

"I think that everybody who goes to the All-Star game knows it's not just because of the things they've done," Pavlik said. "I'm sure, somewhere along the line, his team helped them get there.

"The one thing everybody kept asking about was the ERA and the fact that it was so high. But there was a stretch there where I had three bad outings that jumped it up a whole lot."

Texas manager Johnny Oates defended Pavlik's performance this season.

"How many games has he won? That's all that matters," Oates said. "We don't win pennants with ERAs. We win pennants with wins and losses. That's the criteria you judge with.

"Individually, when it comes time to negotiate your contract, ERA may mean something. But as far as winning a pennant, ERA means nothing."

Elsewhere in the AL, it was Seattle 4, Oakland 3; Minnesota 6, Chicago 5; Cleveland 6, Kansas City 4; Detroit 8, Milwaukee 5; and Toronto 5, Baltimore 2. Boston at New York was postponed by rain.

Pavlik has completed more games than any pitcher, and most teams, in the majors. No one else has more than four, and only seven other major league teams have more than Pavlik alone.

Pavlik struck out five, walked one and allowed an RBI single in the sixth by Chili Davis after his teammates staked him to a 6-0 lead.

Dean Palmer and Kevin Elster opened the scoring with RBI doubles in the fourth inning, and Damon Buford hit a two-run homer in the four-run sixth, helping send Chuck Finley (9-7) into the All-Star game with three straight losses.

The left-hander was charged with six runs, 11 hits and two walks in 52/3 innings.

"They hit the ball hard, and the sixth inning did me in again," Finley said. "I'm not making pitches. That's all there is to it. Out of every three pitches, I make one good one. With that kind of ratio, you're not going to have much success. My last two games have just been terrible."

Elster, who already has a career-high 58 RBIs, added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, and Mark McLemore followed with an RBI single for an 8-1 cushion.

Indians 6, Royals 4

Albert Belle hit his 27th homer, and Jim Thome and Sandy Alomar had two-run doubles in Cleveland's five-run rally in the fifth inning that helped bring the Indians back from a 4-0 deficit.

The Royals, whose pitching staff has given up the fewest walks in the AL, issued eight, including a season-high six by Kevin Appier (7-8).

Appier walked the bases loaded with one out in the fifth and the visiting Royals leading 4-1. Thome then ripped a double off the left-field wall against reliever Mike Magnante to make it 4-3.

Two walks forced in the tying run before Alomar greeted Julio Valera with another double for a 6-4 lead.

Blue Jays 5, Orioles 2

Ed Sprague hit a grand slam in the fifth inning and Juan Guzman improved his AL-leading earned run average by allowing one run in seven innings, leading Toronto at SkyDome.

Sprague's homer off Rick Krivda (2-4) gave the Blue Jays a 5-1 lead. He now has three career grand slams and 23 homers this season.

Guzman (7-6) scattered six hits in seven innings to lower his ERA from 3.38 to 3.25.

Twins 6, White Sox 5

Brad Radke, a loser in 10 of his previous 11 decisions, snapped a five-game losing streak, and Rich Becker went 4-for-5 at Chicago.

Radke (5-10) allowed three runs on seven hits in seven-plus innings. Dave Stevens pitched the final 1 2-3 innings for his 11th save.

The Twins led 5-0 after five innings against White Sox starter Luis Andujar (0-1), who was recalled from Triple-A Nashville on Tuesday and sent back to the minors after the game.

Chicago scored its first three runs in the sixth on Danny Tartabull's 11th homer. The White Sox pulled within a run with two in the eighth on an RBI double by Harold Baines and a pinch-hit RBI single by Frank Thomas, who didn't start for the first time in 83 games.

Tigers 8, Brewers 5

Curtis Pride had three hits, including an RBI triple in a four-run second inning, as Detroit ended a five-game losing by defeating Milwaukee.

Cecil Fielder had his second career stolen base for the Tigers, who finally beat the visiting Brewers after being limited to just one run in their previous two games, a span of 20 innings.

Brian Williams (2-5) allowed two runs and 10 hits in seven innings for Detroit. The Tigers then held on although the Brewers scored three runs in the ninth inning.

Twenty-year-old right-hander Jeff D'Amico (1-1), the majors' youngest player, lasted just 32/3 innings in his second career start. D'Amico, who beat Toronto in his debut last Friday, gave up five runs.

Mariners 4, Athletics 3

Alex Rodriguez, who homered earlier, scored from first base with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning on a double by Edgar Martinez.

Rodriguez reached on an infield single after Carlos Reyes (4-10) got the first two outs. Martinez followed with his major-league-leading 41st double, scoring Rodriguez with the winning run.

Seattle reliever Bobby Ayala (1-1) got the final four outs for the victory as the Mariners salvaged the finale of a three-game series at the Kingdome.