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Dierker: NL Manager Of The Year

Larry Dierker won the NL Manager of the Year award Wednesday after leading the Houston Astros to a team-record 102 victories and their second straight division title.

Dierker, in his second year as a big-league manager, received 16 first-place votes, six seconds and four thirds to earn 102 points in balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

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San Diego's Bruce Bochy was second with five first-place votes and 70 points, followed by Chicago's Jim Riggleman, who got five firsts and 55 points, and San Francisco's Dusty Baker with the other six first-place votes and 39 points.

Dierker came out of the broadcast booth to manage the Astros in 1997 and led the team to 84 wins and their first division title in 11 years. The Astros built on that success this year, improving by 18 games, tied for third best in baseball, to win the NL Central again.

In the regular season, the Astros led the league in runs scored and RBIs, and were second in batting average. The pitching staff had the second-best ERA in the NL.

But once again the Astros faltered in the first round of the playoffs, losing in four games to the Padres. Houston was swept by Atlanta in 1997. The voting, however, was conducted before the playoffs.

Bochy and Riggleman led their teams to 22-game turnarounds, the biggest in baseball this season. The Padres won a team-record 98 games and their second NL West title in three years.

Riggleman took the lovable loser Cubs to the playoffs for just the third time since 1945, beating Baker's Giants in a one-game playoff to win the wild-card berth.

Bochy won the award in 1996, when he took the Padres to the NL West title in his second year in San Diego. Last year Dierker finished third, behind Baker and Pittsburgh's Gene Lamont.

New York's Joe Torre is the overwhelming favorie to win the AL Manager of the Year, which will be announced Thursday.

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