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Tigers' Fielder sets RBI mark

Cecil Fielder became the first player to lead the majors in RBI for three consecutive years Sunday, and Edgar Martinez and Gary Sheffield won their first batting titles while sitting on the bench because of injuries.

Fielder topped both leagues in RBI with 124, becoming the first player to lead that category in the majors (complete leaders, 4C) for three consecutive seasons since RBI became a statistic in 1920. Babe Ruth was tops from 1919-21, and Ty Cobb led the league from 1907-09.

Martinez hit .343 and became the first Mariner to win an AL batting title. The Padres' Sheffield, a St. Petersburg resident who flirted with a run at the triple crown, finished at .330.

Tampa's Fred McGriff was another new name among the leaders, winning the NL home-run title with 35, the lowest total in the NL for a complete season since 1946.

McGriff had the lowest total in the NL since Mike Schmidt's 31 in strike-shortened 1981.

Juan Gonzalez of the Rangers won the AL home-run title by hitting his 43rd Sunday, becoming the youngest (22) home-run champ since 22-year-old Joe DiMaggio of the Yankees in 1937. Gonzalez is the team's first home-run leader since Frank Howard hit 44 in 1970 with the then-Washington Senators.

Darren Daulton of the Phillies led the NL with 109 RBI, becoming only the fourth catcher to win an RBI title. Daulton joined Roy Campanella, Johnny Bench and Gary Carter.

Ending on high notes

Doug Harvey completed his 31-year NL umpiring career by calling a 1-hour, 44-minute game, the league's shortest since July 4, 1989. At the conclusion of the Astros' 3-0 victory over the Dodgers, the 62-year-old Harvey tossed a handful of dirt on home plate. "He called a strike on me," Houston pitcher Pete Harnisch said of Harvey's expanded strike zone, "and then he looked at me and said, "That pitch wasn't even close.'

" The Rangers' Brian Downing brought his 19-season career to an end with a first-inning single against the Angels. Downing turns 42 Friday.

Last hurrahs?

Ozzie Smith received five standing ovations from fans in St. Louis. The 37-year-old shortstop is eligible for free-agency, and the Cardinals haven't indicated what offers they'll make to sign him. Smith's first ovation from the crowd of 32,475 came when he caught the ceremonial first pitch from actor Tom Selleck. Fans cheered again when he did his traditional back flip at the start of the game. The Red Sox's Wade Boggs, meanwhile, got a mixed greeting _ polite applause and mild boos _ as he played possibly his last game at Fenway Park. He, too, is eligible for free-agency.

Roll over, Beethoven

Beethoven, a dog known for its movie role, carried a baseball to the mound for the ceremonial first pitch before the Reds' season finale. Owner Marge Schott led Beethoven onto the field, introducing him as "the most famous dog in the world." While Beethoven's handler ran him through tricks, Schott turned her dog, Schottzie, loose for its daily romp across the artificial turf while players warmed up.

Is that a fact?

The Reds' Barry Larkin finished at .304, making him the first shortstop to hit .300 in four consecutive seasons since Detroit's Harvey Kuenn (1953-56). Tigers rookie Phil Clark went 1-for-4 and finished at .407 (22-for-54). He is the first major-leaguer to bat over .400 with at least 50 at-bats since Mike Davis in 1982 and only the second since Bob "Hurricane" Hazle in 1957. The Reds' 53-28 home record was the best in the majors this season. Dante Bichette's stolen base gave the Brewers 256 for the season, tops in the majors. Milwaukee is the first AL East club to steal 200 in a season. Kenny Lofton is the first rookie to lead the AL in steals (66) since Luis Aparicio (21) in 1956. Teammate Carlos Baerga's 205 hits were the most for Cleveland since Earl Averill (232) in 1936. Two players finished just shy of 200 hits at 199: the Braves' Terry Pendleton and the Pirates' Andy Van Slyke. They shared the NL lead. Andre Dawson hit career homer No.

399, moving him past Eddie Murray (398) among active players. Dave Winfield leads with 406. Ray Lankford became the first Cardinal with 20 homers and 20 stolen bases since Lou Brock in 1967.

Men at the helm

Brewers manager Phil Garner received a one-year contract extension through 1995. Expos manager Felipe Alou is expected to sign a three-year, $1-million contract today. Rangers general manager Tom Grieve said he would interview managerial candidates, leaving the status of interim manager Toby Harrah in doubt.

Odds and ends

The Indians (76-86) outdrew the down-state Reds (90-72) on Cincinnati's Fan Appreciation Day, 30,187 to 22,470, the largest season-ending crowd at Cleveland Stadium in 44 years. Cal Ripken was one of four major-leaguers to play in every game. The others, all Astros, were Craig Biggio, Steve Finley and Jeff Bagwell. The Cubs' Ryne Sandberg went through his second successive season without a throwing error. Seattle released three veterans: pitcher Juan Agosto, catcher Matt Sinatro and outfielder John Moses.

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