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Stewart raps 1,000th

MIKE GANTER, Special to The Free Press   2003-05-09 11:31:30  

ARLINGTON, TEX. -- The series began with the talk of one milestone and ended with the celebration of another.

All of which was just fine with the Toronto Blue Jays, who arrived in Texas with the Rangers' Rafael Palmeiro needing two homers to join the 500 club and left with him still one shy.

The milestone they did celebrate was the 1,000th hit of outfielder Shannon Stewart's career. Appropriately enough, given Palmeiro's chase, it came on a home run -- a three-run shot that put the Jays on their way to an 8-6 victory.

Ironically, neither Stewart nor Palmeiro was feeling real good about going after the milestones.

Palmeiro has been bothered by a sore right elbow since he was hit by a pitch Saturday.

He was 0-for-9 in the series until he got No. 499 off Jays reliever Trever Miller in the eighth inning yesterday.

Stewart has been unhappy with his at-bats and really didn't need anything else to deal with at this time.

"I had no idea I was that close to it until guys in Toronto told me just before we left that I was six hits away," he said.

Stewart's 1,000th hit, a 405-foot blast into the Rangers bullpen in right-centre, capped a four-run second inning for the Blue Jays that put them on their way to their second win in the series and sixth in seven games this month.

Stewart joins six other Jays, including Carlos Delgado, in the 1,000-hit club, but he accomplished the feat faster than any other Jay, reaching the mark in 819 games.

Tony Fernandez, whom Stewart played alongside for four years, was the previous fastest with 1,000 hits in 894 games.

But Stewart's offence wasn't the only stellar part of his game. He stole three hits from the Rangers, including what would have been key drives by Hank Blalock in the third and Einar Diaz in the eighth with the Rangers rallying.



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