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YANKEES SEW UP PLAYOFF SPOT IN AUGUST

In this season of dizzying numbers and records for the New York Yankees, how about this one? It's only August and they're already in the playoffs.

By virtue of their 11-6 win over the Seattle Mariners and a complicated tie-breaker system involving teams fighting for the AL wild card, the Yankees became the first team to qualify for the postseason on Saturday.

And neither the 55,146 fans who attended the game at Yankee Stadium nor the Yankees were around to hear the news.

Only after possible scenarios involving potential playoff teams were tabulated after the game did it become apparent the Yankees were indeed in.

Bernie Williams drove in four runs, Derek Jeter homered and scored four runs and the Yankees enjoyed their second straight easy win over Seattle.

The teams combined for 17 runs on 20 hits and four errors, and eight pitchers were used with 20 runners stranded.

The Yankees built an 11-0 lead after four innings en route to their 98th victory.

"Same story as yesterday," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "They jumped on our starting pitching and put the game away early. We came back some, but you're not going to overcome those kind of deficits."

Andy Pettitte (15-8) benefited from the early run support to stop a personal two-game losing streak. The left-hander allowed five runs and eight hits -- three homers -- in six-plus innings.

"Our scoring runs early sort of flattened them out," New York manager Joe Torre said.

Ken Griffey Jr.'s AL-leading 45th homer was the lone bright spot through six innings for the Mariners, who scored five runs in the seventh to make it respectable.

Blue Jays 14, Twins 7

TORONTO -- Dave Stieb won for the first time since 1993, and Jose Cruz Jr., Shawn Green and Shannon Stewart homered as Toronto beat Minnesota.

Stieb (1-1), who began the season as a guest instructor in spring training, started in place of Pat Hentgen, whose string of 183 consecutive starts ended because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.

"It was an emotional outing for me," Stieb said. "I just wanted to go out there and just make my pitches and get some outs. I didn't expect to be sharp and I wasn't."

Stieb won despite giving up four earned runs on seven hits in five innings. The 41-year-old right-hander struck out four and walked two.

"It's difficult not pitching much, and coming out of the bullpen and starting all of a sudden," Stieb said. "Obviously, it wasn't pretty, as you can see by the linescore."

Cruz, 3 for 4 with three RBIs, hit a 453-foot shot off a SkyDome restaurant window in center field to give the Blue Jays an 8-3 lead in fourth.

Red Sox 6, Angels 1

BOSTON -- Pedro Martinez matched Tom Glavine and David Cone for the major-league lead with 18 victories, allowing one run and seven hits in Boston's victory over Anaheim.

Martinez (18-4) lowered his AL-leading ERA to 2.67, and had eight strikeouts and only one walk. His victory total is Boston's highest since Roger Clemens had 18 in 1992.

John Valentin homered and had an RBI double, and Troy O'Leary hit a two-run homer for the Red Sox, who snapped a two-game losing streak and maintained their eight-game lead over Texas for the AL wild-card berth. Anaheim's lead in the West dropped to two games over the Rangers.

Athletics 11, Indians 6

CLEVELAND -- Rookies Ben Grieve and A.J. Hinch each drove in three runs to lead Oakland over Cleveland.

Scott Spiezio added two RBIs for Oakland, which beat Cleveland for the eighth straight time. The A's had 16 hits after getting a season-high 24 in a 14-6 win in 10 innings Friday night.

Billy Taylor got out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth by retiring Manny Ramirez on a force play to earn his 28th save.

"Everybody's swinging the bat well up and down the lineup, but Taylor getting Manny Ramirez . . . that was the ballgame," Oakland manager Art Howe said.

Ramirez went 3 for 5 with his 33rd homer and made a spectacular catch, while rookie Richie Sexson hit two homers for Cleveland.

Rangers 5, White Sox 3

CHICAGO -- Ivan Rodriguez hit a three-run homer as Texas rallied with four runs in the sixth inning to beat Chicago.

After giving up five hits and three runs in the first two innings, Aaron Sele (16-10) gave up just one more hit and two walks over the next six innings. John Wetteland pitched the ninth for his 38th save.

Mike Sirotka (12-13) was shelled for 10 hits and five runs -- all earned -- in 5 2/3 innings.

Royals 2, Orioles 1

BALTIMORE -- Rookie Brian Barber held Baltimore hitless until Cal Ripken doubled with two outs in the seventh inning, and Kansas City sent the Orioles to their sixth straight loss.

Pitching in only his 13th major-league game, Barber (2-1) allowed only two walks before Ripken doubled into the left-field corner. Barber then struck out B.J. Surhoff, but was lifted after giving up a leadoff single to Chris Hoiles in the eighth. He walked two and struck out two in his longest stint in the majors.

Devil Rays 10-2, Tigers 6-8

DETROIT -- Rookie Juan Encarnacion hit a three-run homer and Detroit beat Tampa Bay in the nightcap to gain a split of a doubleheader.

In the first game, Mike Kelly hit two homers and Bobby Smith went 4 for 5 with four RBIs as the Devil Rays won.

Encarnacion, recalled Aug. 17 from Triple-A Toledo, had an 11-game hitting streak stopped in the opener. He quickly made up for that in the second game, going 2 for 4.

Tony Clark homered in both games for Detroit. Rookie Frank Catalanotto also homered in the second game as the Tigers won for just the sixth time in their last 26 games.

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