George Brett's fourth home run in five days helped Kansas City to a 4-2 victory over visiting Oakland last night that clinched a tie for the American League West title for the Royals.
The win, coupled with Texas' 6-0 shutout of second-place California, gave the Royals a two-game lead in the division. Kansas City has two games remaining with the A's and the Angels will play two more at Texas.
The Royals could come to the park for their game tonight against the A's with their second straight AL West title already locked up. The Angels will play a nationally televised afternoon game.
"I may turn on the television tomorrow afternoon," Kansas City Manager Dick Howser said with a smile. "I'll bet a lot of our players will have their sets on, too. They can all afford nice TVs."
"We might all come to the stadium drunk tomorrow night," quipped pitcher Bret Saberhagen, the Royals' 21-year-old 20-game winner.
Brett's fourth home run and second inside-the-park shot since Monday night came off starter Jose Rijo (6-4) in the seventh and put Kansas City on top, 4-2. Brett hit a slicing line drive into left field that eluded Jose Canseco and rolled to the wall. There was no play at the plate.
Mark Gubicza gave up six hits in 6 1/3 innings, hiking his record to 14-10, while Dan Quisenberry finished for his league-leading 37th save.
Fresh from winning three of four from the Angels in a crucial showdown, the Royals scored in the second. Jorge Orta led off with a walk, went to second on Steve Balboni's single and scored on a single by Pat Sheridan.
Willie Wilson doubled leading off the third and scored on Orta's double to give the Royals a 2-0 lead.
After Sundberg singled leading off the fourth, Buddy Biancalana laid down a sacrifice bunt. But both runners were save when second baseman Tony Phillips pulled his foot off the bag while covering second. A fielder's choice forced Sundberg at third and sent Biancalana to second, then Wilson singled to load the bases and Brett hit an infield grounder that brought home Biancalana with the Royals' third run.