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Umpires may still strike despite Alomar's ban for spitting

Roberto Alomar, the Baltimore Orioles' second baseman, will serve his five-game suspension for spitting at an umpire next season after withdrawing his appeal against the ban. However, this still leaves the umpires to decide whether to boycott further matches in the divisional play-offs of the American and National Leagues in protest of what they believe is a too lenient penalty.

Meanwhile in the second match of the American League play-offs against the Cleveland Indians in Baltimore, Brady Anderson hit a home run in his second straight game to spark a three-run fifth inning as the Orioles won 7-4 to take a surprising 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, which now moves to Cleveland today. "This is the most excited I have been in years," Cal Ripken, who scored the winning run, said. "We can win this but it takes three wins and the last game is always the toughest."

Derek Jeter scampered home on a 12th-inning throwing error by Dean Palmer, the Texas Rangers third baseman, as the New York Yankees rallied for a 5-4 victory over the Rangers to level the series at a game apiece in the other play-off played.

In the opening match of the Atlanta Braves' National League play-off, Javy Lopez hit a home run in the 10th inning and John Smoltz restricted the Dodgers to a single run as the World Series champions overcame Los Angeles 2-1.

Lopez opened the 10th by hiting a pitch from Antonio Osuna into the right- centre field. "He hung it a bit and I just tried to drive it," Lopez said of the home run. "I wasn't sure it was out."