While most of baseball was focused on Mark McGwire, the Texas Rangers and Toronto Blue Jays were gaining ground in their post-season races.
And, in the all-but-forgotten AL East race, the Yankees clinched a tie for the division title.Ivan Rodriguez's two-run single with one out in the ninth led Texas over the Kansas City Royals 7-6 Tuesday night, pulling the Rangers within two games of AL West-leading Anaheim.
"To come back like that in the ninth is extra special," Rangers manager Johnny Oates said. "We needed it again and we came through again."
Toronto, which had the day off, pulled within 41/2 games of Boston in the wild-card race when the Red Sox lost to the Yankees 3-2 at Fenway Park.
"We're not worried," Pedro Martinez said. "We're playing good baseball."
New York, which battered the AL for five months before an 8-11 slump, needs just one more win or a Boston loss to mathematically ensure the title.
"One more to go," said David Cone (19-5), who became baseball's first 19-game winner. "It's almost like we secured the division a while ago. We just have to make it official."
At Arlington, Texas trailed 6-4 in the ninth before Rusty Greer's RBI single off Jeff Montgomery (2-5) and the winning hit by Rodriguez. Danny Patterson (2-5) got three outs for the victory.
The Royals had 15 hits, including three from Jeremy Giambi, who hit his first major league homer, but left seven men on base in the first three innings.
YANKEES 3, RED SOX 2: Cone allowed two runs - one earned - and two hits in seven innings, striking out 11.
With the score 1-all in the eighth, Paul O'Neill hit an RBI grounder with the bases loaded and Pedro Martinez (18-5) forced in a run by walking Tino Martinez.
Mariano Rivera got five outs for his 34th save.
TWINS 5, ANGELS 0: Brad Radke (11-3) allowed six hits in seven innings and struck out 12 to win for the first time since July 28 in MInnesota's victory at Anaheim.
Radke, 1-7 since the All-Star break before the outing, got homers from Terry Steinbach and Paul Molitor.
Steve Sparks (9-3) lost for the first time since July 16, giving up three runs and seven hits in six innings.
DEVIL RAYS 10, MARINERS 0: At Seattle, Wilson Alvarez (6-3) allowed two hits in seven innings, combining with two relievers on a two-hitter to win for the first time since July 26. Tampa Bay got its largest victory margin of its initial season.
Ken Griffey Jr., who leads the AL with 50 homers after homering twice Monday night, was 0-for-3 with a walk. The Mariners' Alex Rodriguez, one homer shy of becoming the third player to get 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in the same season, was 0-for-4.
Mac Suzuki (0-1) gave up five runs and nine hits in 52/3 innings.
WHITE SOX 12, TIGERS 6: Rookie Jeff Abbott homered twice at Comiskey Park, Robin Ventura hit a two-run shot and Wil Cordero added a solo homer.
John Snyder (6-2) won despite giving up five runs and six hits in 51/3 innings. Justin Thompson (10-14) lost his fifth straight start.
ORIOLES 5, ATHLETICS 2: Doug Johns and three relievers combined for a seven-hitter and Brady Anderson's infield single in the fifth scored the go-ahead run at Oakland.
EXPOS 6, BRAVES 3: Greg Maddux insists he hasn't been pitching differently in recent starts.
The difference has been in the results.
Maddux had another tough outing Tuesday night, allowing five earned runs to Montreal in the Expos' 6-3 win over the Atlanta Braves.
Maddux (17-8) has allowed 24 earned runs in his last six starts, covering 39 innings, to see his ERA climb from 1.53 to 2.20. He gave up six runs on six hits in seven innings against the host Expos, striking out nine and walking a season-high four.
CARDINALS 6, CUBS 3: Kent Mercker (10-11) allowed two runs and eight hits in six innings, and Juan Acevedo got his seventh save. Visiting Chicago remained tied with the New York Mets in the NL wild-card race.
PIRATES 8, BREWERS 7: Jose Guillen blooped a two-run, two-out single off Eric Plunk (0-2) into right field in the eighth inning as Pittsburgh rallied from a 7-0 deficit.
PHILLIES 16, METS 4: Rico Brogna, Kevin Sefcik and Bobby Estalella each homered twice at Philadelphia.
ASTROS 13, REDS 7: Jeff Bagwell hit his first career grand slam and tied a career high with six RBIs as the host Astros (92-53) tied Atlanta for the NL's best record.
ROCKIES 11, MARLINS 10: Vinny Castilla matched a career high with six RBIs, including the game-winning two-run single in the ninth at Coors Field.
GIANTS 5, PADRES 1: Marvin Benard hit a leadoff homer and went 4-for-4, and J.T. Snow drove in two runs as the visiting Giants won for the 12th time in 17 games.
DODGERS 6, DIAMONDBACKS 5: Raul Mondesi tied it with a three-run home run in the eighth inning and Eric Karros drove in the winning run with a sacrifice fly in the 11th for the visiting Dodgers.