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Little-known Hiljus hurls A's past White Sox

CHICAGO (AP) -- Journeyman Erik Hiljus is providing the Oakland Athletics the fifth starter they need, even though he's on his fourth organization in five years.

Hiljus, a 30-year-old rookie, pitched five-plus innings and got
support from Eric Chavez, who hit a three-run homer, and Jeremy
Giambi -- who added a solo shot -- as the A's beat the Chicago White
Sox 9-2 Friday night.

"Any time I'm involved with a win, whether I get it or not, I'm pumped," said Hiljus, who has a 3.44 ERA in five starts this year.

Hiljus began his career in 1991 with the Mets, and moved on to the Cardinals in 1996, starting 110 minor league games before getting hurt. He went to the Tigers and then the A's, without starting before this year.

"They asked me to try starting in spring training, and I said I'd do it. I definitely would have said there'd be no way I'd be here now," he added.

Jermaine Dye and Miguel Tejada each drove in two runs for the
A's, who have won 15 of 18 and are a major league best 26-9 since
the All-Star break.

Hiljus (2-0), who hadn't won since his first major league start
June 30 -- a span of four starts -- allowed two runs on six hits and
no walks. He struck out two.

The A's bullpen held Chicago scoreless the rest of the way, with Chad Bradford pitching a scoreless ninth.

"We mixed and matched with the bullpen tonight," Oakland manager Art Howe said. "It was nice we were able to stay away from using the closer."

The White Sox, who failed to gain in the AL Central on
first-place Cleveland, have dropped six of seven to the A's this year.

In the first, Dye hit a two-run double and Miguel Tejada added a
two-out, run-scoring single to put the A's up 3-0.

Poor outfield defense helped Oakland add to its lead without a
hit in the third.

After a leadoff walk, Aaron Rowand dropped Tejada's fly ball in
deep right-center for an error, which moved the lead runner to
third.

Chavez then hit a high fly to left-center, which was caught by
Carlos Lee -- despite Rowand's apparent call for the ball. After
nearly colliding with Rowand, Lee dropped the ball during the
transfer to his throwing hand, and Chavez was credited with a
sacrifice fly. A's manager Art Howe briefly argued that Lee had not
caught the ball.

The A's, who got the leadoff man aboard in each of the first
four innings off rookie Dan Wright (2-1), left six men on base
through three innings.

Giambi hit his ninth homer off Wright in the fourth to make it 5-0.

Magglio Ordonez hit his 24th homer, a solo shot to left, off
Hiljus to get Chicago on the board in the bottom half.

An inning later, Mark Johnson's RBI groundout made it 5-2.

At one point, Hiljus retired nine straight and 11 of 13. But
after an error by second baseman Frank Menechino to start the
sixth, Luis Vizcaino relieved Hiljus.

Former A's slugger Jose Canseco, who struck out three times,
came to bat as the tying run in the eighth, but grounded into a
double play off Jeff Tam.

"Fortunately, I got him leaning out over the plate," Tam said. "It was huge to get the double play and keep the lead at three runs."

"We had some opportunities to get a big hit to break it open," White Sox manager Jerry Manuel said. "But we couldn't get it."

Tejada hit a sacrifice fly off Matt Ginter, and Chavez hit his
19th homer off Alan Embree in the ninth to make it 9-2.

"That broke it open. I only wish they had done it earlier," Howe joked.

Wright, who came in with a 2.45 ERA in three starts, allowed
five runs -- four earned -- on eight hits over six innings.

Game notes
Jeremy Giambi was 7-for-31 (.226) over his previous nine
games. ... Dye has 23 RBI in 22 games with the A's. ... The A's
have won 15 of 20 on the road. ... Chicago SS Royce Clayton took batting practice but did not play as he rested a sore back. He is expected back in the lineup Saturday. ... Ordonez has five homers
and 12 RBIs in his last 11 games. ... It was "Elvis Tribute
Night" at Comiskey Park, and many Elvis-centric events -- including
impersonators galore -- went on throughout the evening. ... The
crowd of 33,834 was Chicago's largest in 23 dates since July 1.