ENJOYING INTERLEAGUE: Fans turned out in larger numbers for interleague play this month than for the regular American and National League games so far this season.

But, attendance for this season's first phase was 3,000 less than the average for the three interleague periods last year when the idea was introduced.The 84 interleague games during the seven-day period this month drew an average of 30,476, a 15.2 percent increase over the 26,446 average attendance for intraleague games.

The figures were announced Friday by major league baseball.

They also show the novelty of interleague play may be wearing off. In 1997, interleague games averaged 33,407, or 20.4 percent more than the intraleague average of 27,746 for the entire season.

The interleague matchup of the Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians this year was a big hit in Cincinnati where the three games attracted 144,917 fans, giving the Reds their best three-game series since 1974. The Baltimore Orioles set an attendance record for Camden Yards, drawing 144,227 for a three-game series against the Atlanta Braves.