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09/16/08 1:22 AM ET

Sheffield one step closer to 500 homers

Slugger's 497th shot is line drive, scores three runs

ARLINGTON -- Detroit Tigers designated hitter Gary Sheffield inched closer to the prestigious 500 home run club on Monday night.

Sheffield belted career homer No. 497, a 1-0 fastball from Rangers reliever Josh Rupe, over the left-field fence to give the Tigers a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning. The three-run, 351-foot blast was Sheffield's 17th of the season.

The home run, though, had people buzzing even after the game as it left Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in seconds on a rope.

"He hits home runs that are line drives," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "I don't know how many of them have been like that, but I've seen quite a few of them."

Now, though, the veteran slugger is just three home runs shy of becoming the 25th member of the exclusive club.

Even though Sheffield has said he'd start thinking about it more and more as he gets closer, Leyland doesn't think it'll change Sheffield's approach.

"I doubt he's going to press," Leyland said. "He's just got to let it happen. If you hit the ball hard, it's going to go out."

Tuesday night's blast was Sheffield's first since Sept. 8, when he had two home runs against the Athletics. With 12 games remaining, Sheffield is now well within reach of joining the elite club by the end of the season.

Drew Davison is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.