George Bell again got the big hit for Toronto, and the Blue Jays won a big game yesterday in New York that tightened the American League East race.

Bell and Nelson Liriano hit two-run homers as Toronto beat the Yankees, 6-2, and pulled within a half-game of division-leading Detroit, which lost to Milwaukee, 11-4.

Bell's 46th homer, tying Oakland's Mark McGwire for most in the majors and Orlando Cepeda for most in a season by a Latin player, put Toronto ahead, 2-0. It came with the Yankee Stadium scoreboard showing Detroit losing, and after he had been brushed back and struck out by rookie Al Leiter in the second inning.

"Nothing bothers me," said Bell, who took a called strike in his first at-bat after he thought he had called time.

Bell homered on an 0-2 pitch from Leiter, sending it far over the left field fence.

"Big games, big situations, he likes those," Toronto Manager Jimy Williams said. "If you take everything into consideration, it was a big home run."

Liriano's homer capped a three-run seventh that made it 5-2. Willie Upshaw homered in the eighth.

Jimmy Key, Dave Wells and Tom Henke gave up seven hits to New York, but were especially tough during rallies. The Yankees were only one for 12 with runners in scoring position.

"The story of the ballgame was we had the bases loaded twice with no outs and one out and we got one run," said Yankees Manager Lou Piniella. "But leaving runners on base has been a problem not only today or this week, but all year."

The Yankees, who led the majors in leaving men on base last season, have the ninth-lowest total in the AL this year.

Toronto played the final three games under protest because of field conditions at Yankee Stadium, torn up a week ago Saturday night by a college football game played in the rain.

Earlier, the Yankees announced they sent pitcher Paul Pries to the Chicago White Sox to complete a trade.

In Detroit, Dale Sveum, Robin Yount, Paul Molitor, Bill Schroeder and Glenn Braggs hit home runs off Jack Morris as the Brewers averted a sweep of their three-game series with the Tigers.

Morris (18-9), who has given up 39 home runs -- second only to Bert Blyleven's 42 -- was in trouble from the first pitch.

Morris, who is 6-5 since the all-star break, gave up six runs, although only two were earned, on nine hits in the six innings he worked.

Juan Nieves (13-7) allowed two runs on four hits in the 5 2/3 innings he worked for Milwaukee. Chuck Crimm pitched 3 1/3 innings for his 10th save.

Twins 3, Indians 2:

Kirby Puckett hit a two-run homer, and Les Straker (8-9) allowed six hits in six innings, pacing AL West-leading Minnesota at home.

Puckett hit his 26th home run over the center field fence off Rich Yett (3-8), scoring Randy Bush and boosting the Twins' lead to 3-0 in the sixth inning. Bush had walked.

Puckett also doubled and scored in the second inning.

Rangers 2, Angels 1:

In Arlington, Tex., Darrell Porter drew a bases-loaded walk with one out in the 10th inning to force in the winning run, and reliever Steve Howe earned the victory.

Howe (3-3) came on to start the ninth after Charlie Hough had allowed one run on six hits. Howe pitched two perfect innings.

Hough had two balks to raise his season total to nine, setting an AL record. Frank Tanana had eight in 1978 when he played for the Angels. Steve Carlton has the major league record of 11. The knuckleballer also hit a club-record three batters.

The walk to Porter came off relieved DeWayne Buice, who replaced Greg Minton (4-4) after Scott Fletcher singled to start the 10th.

Fletcher stole second and went to third as Ruben Sierra bounced out. After Pete O'Brien was intentionally walked, Tom O'Malley drew a walk to load the bases and Porter walked on four straight pitches.

Athletics 7, Royals 6:

Mark McGwire had four hits, and Oakland got some help from a rare error by Willie Wilson to sweep a three-game series in Kansas City, Mo.

The A's took a 7-0 lead with three runs in the fifth. Reggie Jackson drove in two with a pinch single after Wilson dropped a fly ball for an error, breaking his string of consecutive errorless chances at 325. That was five short of the AL record for outfielders by Brian Downing in 1982.

White Sox 5, Mariners 3:

In Chicago, Carlton Fisk singled home Ivan Calderon for his 16th game-winning hit to trigger a four-run fifth inning, and rookie Jack McDowell won his second straight start.

McDowell and Seattle's Mike Moore were locked in a scoreless duel when Calderon opened the fifth with a double. Calderon (four hits) reached third on an infield out. Fisk singled home Calderon and scored from first on Daryl Boston's double off the left field wall. Kenny Williams tripled in Boston, and Williams scored on Steve Lyons' sacrifice fly.