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TUESDAY'S NOTEBOOK

Braves: Outfielder David Justice said Tuesday he left the team the previous night to be with his wife, actress Halle Berry, who had to "undergo a hospital procedure." The Braves announced Monday before their game with Philadelphia that Justice had asked and been granted permission to return to Atlanta "for personal reasons." Justice returned to Philadelphia in time for Tuesday night's game.

Sheffield plea: Gary Sheffield of the San Diego Padres faces arraignment on a misdemeanor assault charge today. Sheffield, a Tampa resident, will not be present at the hearing in Houston _ the Padres will be in San Francisco playing the Giants. Houston lawyer Chris Tritico will represent Sheffield and enter his innocent plea.

Orioles: The price offered for the team rose nearly $7-million as a routine court appointment to set ground rules for the team's auction turned into a rapidly escalating bidding war. The contest erupted when representatives of a Baltimore-based investor group led by attorney Peter G. Angelos arrived for a hearing in New York bankruptcy court with an offer of $145-million for the franchise. That topped the $141.3-million bid 11 days ago by an investors group led by Cincinnati businessmen William O. DeWitt Jr. and Mercer Reynolds. After another round of raises the Angelos group, which claims it wants to return ownership of the Orioles to Baltimore, was saying it would pay $148.1-million for the team. A hearing was set for Aug. 2 to consider final bids.

_ TIMES WIRES

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