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PINIELLA'S TIRADE ENTERTAINS TRIBE

Rookie Richie Sexson blushed behind his first baseman's glove. Ken Griffey Jr. doubled over with laughter as both teams enjoyed the show.

It could only mean one thing. Seattle manager Lou Piniella was up to his old tricks.

Piniella had one of the most entertaining tirades of his career Wednesday night, flailing his arms and kicking his cap all over the infield while arguing a double play in the ninth inning of Cleveland's 5-3 victory over his struggling Mariners.

"Awesome," said Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel, who played one season for Piniella in Seattle. "That was awesome. One of the best shows I have ever seen."

Even for Piniella, known for his uproarious confrontations with umpires, this was one to remember.

With Seattle trailing by two, Russ Davis led off the Seattle ninth with a walk. Pinch-hitter Raul Ibanez grounded to second baseman Enrique Wilson, who tried to tag Davis and throw to first. Second base umpire Larry Barnett called Davis out for leaving the baseline, making it a double play.

Piniella argued calmly at first but then started waving his arms wildly and pointing emphatically to the baseline. He eventually walked slowly back to the dugout.

"He said I can't point to the ground," Piniella said. "What am I supposed to point to, the sky? The player was on the ground."

Barnett motioned to Piniella that he'd been thrown out. So Sweet Lou sprinted out for an encore, throwing and kicking his cap and finally tossing it into the stands. It was thrown right back at him.

"Got my hat back," said Piniella, alternately upset and jovial afterward. "Looks good."

Asked how he stayed so cool, Barnett said, "I've dealt with this man for years."

Sexson, Cleveland's 6-foot-8 rookie, homered and had his first four-hit game but may have enjoyed Piniella's tirade even more.

"I asked Grover if that was a big league performance, and he said Lou was one of the best," Sexson said.

"I give it a 10," said Indians starter Dave Burba (11-9), who got his first victory of the second half.

Manny Ramirez hit his 32nd homer and second in two nights for the Indians. Griffey was 1-for-4 with a single and failed to homer for the second straight game, keeping him at an AL-high 44. The Mariners have lost five straight to Cleveland and nine of 10 this season.

Sexson homered, doubled twice and singled to raise his average to .366 with two homers and 11 RBIs -- filling in well for injured first baseman Jim Thome.

Piniella's performance overshadowed all of them.

"What can I say? It was long," Indians manager Mike Hargrove said. "I don't know how anybody can think of that many things to yell."

"I respect umps. I know they have a tough job," Piniella said. "I don't even know what I did out there. I don't remember everything."

Thome saw a doctor about his broken right hand, but wasn't cleared to start hitting. He's doing conditioning and taking ground balls only. . . . It was Sexson's fifth game this month with at least three hits.

Yankees feel relief

NEW YORK -- Most teams with a 16 1/2 -game lead wouldn't feel pressure because of a four-game losing streak. The New York Yankees, however, aren't most teams.

"Relief. There's no question," Yankees manager Joe Torre said after New York stopped the skid, edging the Anaheim Angels, 7-6, in the second game of a day-night doubleheader.

New York wasted a 2-0 lead in the opener, losing 6-4. Then the Yankees blew a 5-1 lead in the second game, with Mariano Rivera (3-0) giving up a two-out, game-tying single to Darin Erstad in the ninth as Norberto Martin scored from first.

"It's sort of a wake-up call for us," said Derek Jeter, who won it with a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth.

After Erstad's hit, it seemed like the Yankees were headed to their fifth straight loss, their longest since a six-game skid last Sept. 1-6.

"When you have your closer in the game and you're one out away, the air's out of the balloon," Torre said.

The Angels, whose lead over Texas in the AL West was cut to three games, are 6-4 against the Yankees this season -- the only team to lead New York in the season series -- and could open the playoffs at Yankee Stadium.

"Right now, we've got to worry about getting to October," Angels manager Terry Collins said.

Around the horn

Darren Lewis delivered the tie-breaking hit for the second consecutive game with a two-run single in the eighth inning that sent the Red Sox past the Athletics, 7-4. Lewis, who homered leading off the seventh inning of Boston's 3-2 win on Tuesday, grounded a bases-loaded single through a drawn-in infield in the eighth to give Boston a 6-4 lead. . . . Tim Belcher pitched a three-hitter and Dean Palmer hit a three-run homer, lifting the Royals over the Blue Jays, 7-2. . . . Juan Gonzalez drove in four runs to raise his major league-leading RBI total to 133 in the Rangers 8-6 victory over the Tigers. . . . Frank Thomas hit his 25th homer to cap a six-run second when the White Sox did all their scoring with two outs, and he hit a two-run triple in the sixth in a 12-5 victory over the sliding Orioles. . . . Twins right-hander Bob Tewksbury won in his first start since coming off the disabled list -- he had been sidelined since mid-July by a sore right shoulder -- by pitching five strong innings in a 7-3 victory over the Devil Rays.

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