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Fletcher's HR Dumps Rangers


When left-handed hitting Darrin Fletcher saw submarine-style lefty Mike Venafro pitch for the first time Friday night, he jokingly turned around his batting helmet and took a right-handed stance.

Batting left-handed Sunday night, Fletcher pulled an 0-2 breaking ball from Venafro for a tiebreaking home run in the eighth inning, lifting the Toronto Blue Jays to an 8-7 victory over the Texas Rangers.

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  • "There are maybe two, three guys in the game who drop down from the left side, so I just wanted to see the ball," Fletcher said. "I saw it spin and I was able to hit it out."

    Venafro (3-2) said he was trying to get Fletcher to chase a pitch low and outside, but instead it stayed waist-high and inside.

    "It was a slider that didn't do too much," the rookie said.

    Fletcher's 11th homer of the year ensured the Blue Jays of at least a split of the four-game series against the Rangers. This was only Texas' fifth loss in 23 games since the All-Star break.

    Carlos Delgado, whose three homers Friday night helped beat the Rangers, went 3-for-4 Sunday with three RBIs and his 30th homer. He also walked.

    Delgado helped the Jays take a 2-0 lead with an RBI single in the first, then he chased Texas starter John Burkett with the third of three straight Blue Jay doubles in the fifth as they rallied for a 6-4 lead. His seventh-inning homer made it 7-5.

    Needing only a triple for the cycle, Delgado hit the ball to deep left-center in the top of the ninth, but Roberto Kelly made a nice catch against the wall.

    "I'm just seeing the ball good, recognizing my strikes and when 'm swinging at it, I'm not missing them," said Delgado, who has four homers among his last eight hits to reach 30 homers for the third straight year.

    Delgado is 11-for-18 against the Rangers this year, with two doubles and five homers. His lifetime average against Texas is .359, and his 12 career homers at The Ballpark tied Jose Canseco for the most by a visitor.

    "He's being patient and swinging at pitches that he can drive," said Burkett, who allowed five earned runs and six overall in four innings. "He's a strong guy, probably the strongest in the league."

    Toronto's David Wells allowed four runs in the first two innings and was ahead 7-5 with a runner on first when he was relieved by John Frascatore.

    Frascatore (7-0) gave up a game-tying homer to Todd Zeile, a single and a wild pitch, but he also got two outs, and that was enough for the victory.

    "The vulture had gone awhile without a win," Toronto manager Jim Fregosi said, laughing.

    Wells was tagged for six runs on nine hits in 6 1-3 innings. Billy Koch pitched a perfect ninth for his 24th save.

    The Rangers led 4-2 on an RBI double by Rafael Palmeiro, a a two-run double by Roberto Kelly and an infield single by Ivan Rodriguez.

    After a four-run fifth put Toronto up 6-4, Texas' Juan Gonzalez hit a solo homer in the bottom of the inning. It was his 26th of the year, but his first since July 17, ending a 14-game drought.

    Notes

  • Toronto's David Segui did not play after breaking a bone in his right hand Saturday night. He's wearing a splint.
  • Texas' Rusty Greer missed his second straight game with a sprained left ankle.
  • Burkett's shortest start since May 29 ended a streak of 13 straight games that a Texas starter had lasted at least five innings. The staff also had a 13-game stretch earlier this year.
  • By going 2-for-5, Shawn Green ended a minislump. He had been 2-for-25 since ending his 28-game hitting streak.
  • Roberto Kelly went 3-for-4 and has nine hits n his last 21 at-bats.
  • The last Blue Jays player to hit for the cycle was Kelly Gruber on April 16, 1989, against Kansas City.
  • Koch has a save in 10 straight appearances, tying a team record.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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