A year after his election to the Hall of Fame, RHP Dennis Eckersley had his number retired by the Athletics yesterday.

"This is the topper," Eckersley said before the Athletics defeated the Twins, 5-2. "This is a feeling unmatched because this is my home town."

Eckersley wore No. 43 with Oakland, and became the fourth Athletics player to have his number retired. The others are Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers.

A 20-game winner with the Cleveland Indians in 1978, Eckersley was converted to a reliever -- reluctantly -- when he arrived in Oakland in 1987. He recorded 320 of his 390 career saves with the Athletics. He also had 197 victories, despite spending 12 years in the bullpen.

"I didn't think I was finished starting," he said. "Luckily, they thought I was."

A sellout crowd of 47,388 -- the largest crowd of the season -- cheered for more than three minutes when he was introduced to the strands of his signature song, "Bad to the Bone."

"Our theory was get Eck in the game," former Oakland OF Rickey Henderson said. "You knew the game was over."

* QUITE A SLUMP: Mariners DH Scott Spiezio, a star during the Angels' 2002 World Series title run, went hitless in three at-bats against his former team yesterday.

He's 0 for 29 in his eight starts this season. He has two hits in 43 at-bats, including 13 pinch-hit appearances.

* THAT'S COLD: With the game-time temperature at 95 degrees in the Yankees-Rangers game, the Yankees showed some wishful thinking by playing "Let It Snow" in the sixth inning.

* ANOTHER DELAY: Consecutive rainouts brought added frustration to a couple of teams yearning for a win -- or at least a chance to win.

Rain forced the postponement of the Tigers-Royals game for the second straight night in Kansas City, Mo. They will play a doubleheader today and again on Sept. 20.

"It will be tough on both teams," Detroit Manager Alan Trammell said.

RHP Runelvys Hernandez had been slated to start the first game for the Royals today, but he was given the day off because his wife is having a difficult pregnancy.

-- From News Services

Former Oakland relief pitcher Dennis Eckersley is driven past his retired jersey in right field in a pregame ceremony.