Tejada HR saves baseball's longest streak since '53

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Over and over again, the ball left

Miguel Tejada's bat and landed in the left-field seats. Each time, the

Coliseum crowd cheered wildly as Tejada screamed with joy and

pumped his arms while rounding the bases.

The A's sprint out of the dugout World Series-style after Miguel Tejada's streak-saving homer.
The A's sprint out of the dugout World Series-style after Miguel Tejada's streak-saving homer.

The televisions in the Oakland clubhouse played just one program

after the Athletics won their 18th straight game -- and every time,

Tejada was the star.

Tejada hit a dramatic three-run homer as the A's blew a two-run

lead in the ninth inning, then rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins

7-5 Sunday to extend baseball's best streak in 49 years.

Everyone in Oakland was in a bit of disbelief -- particularly the

A's clubhouse staffers, who played the final at-bat on a continuous


''Every year, I take all my tapes back home (to the Dominican

Republic), and I show them to my dad,'' Tejada said. ''This one

might break. I'm going to watch it every day.''

The first game-ending homer of Tejada's career extended the

majors' longest winning streak since 1953, when the New York

Yankees also won 18 in a row, on a day it seemed certain to

continue -- and then seemed certain to end when Oakland allowed

three solo homers in the top of the ninth.

''This thing has a life of its own,'' Oakland manager Art Howe

said of the longest streak in franchise history, besting the

17-gamer by the 1931 Philadelphia A's. ''I can't say I'm surprised

by anything that happens. We sort of blew that game, but Miggy

found a way to get it for us anyway.''

Matthew LeCroy, Corey Koskie and Mike Cuddyer homered for

Minnesota in an improbable rally that ruined the complete-game

hopes of Mark Mulder and sent the Coliseum into stunned, empty


But in the ninth, Ramon Hernandez walked and Ray Durham singled

against ace closer Eddie Guardado (1-3). Pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz

struck out, setting the stage for Tejada's homer.

''While I was running, I looked up and I saw my dad (in a luxury

box),'' Tejada said. ''He was jumping. It was funny to see him

jumping. That's where I pointed.''

At Howe's urging, Tejada stepped out of the dugout moments later

for a curtain call.

''I threw a fastball low, but it caught too much of the plate,

and he reached down and got it,'' Guardado said. ''As soon as he

got it in the air, I knew it was gone. What are you going to do?

Tejada is an All-Star.''

Tejada also hit an early two-run homer, driving in five runs on

three hits.

''MVP. Period. Three letters describe that guy,'' said A's

closer Billy Koch (7-2), who gave up Cuddyer's go-ahead homer but

got the victory. ''I don't think there's any other choice. If he

wasn't on this team, where would we be?''

By sweeping AL Central-leading Minnesota, the A's won their

ninth straight series. When ace Barry Zito goes for his 20th win

Monday against Kansas City, the A's have a shot to tie the AL

record of 19 straight victories set by the White Sox in 1906 and

tied by the Yankees in 1947.

Nail-biters have been a rarity during the streak for the A's,

baseball's best team in one-run games. The A's hadn't even trailed

in any ninth inning during their streak until Sunday, and they've

outscored their opponents 122-48.

''You touch them, you burn yourself,'' said Torii Hunter, who

broke up Mulder's shutout bid with a game-tying, two-run homer in

the sixth. ''You can't play those guys. They're so unbelievable.

You can't take those guys light, even with a 5-4 lead in the bottom

of the ninth. When they have something going, they finish it.''

Minnesota lost its fourth straight, but with a magic number of

13, the Twins' division title is all but assured.

The A's jumped ahead early in another good start by Mulder, who

struck out seven and opened the ninth with a chance for a


Mulder got a raucous standing ovation when he emerged to pitch

the ninth -- but LeCroy and Koskie blasted homers to left, putting

Mulder on the bench with his head in his hands.

After Koch got two outs, Cuddyer -- hitting .196 entering the

game -- hit his third major league homer. The Twins' unlikely trio

had 22 homers among them before the game.

When the A's visit the Metrodome next weekend, it might be

another playoff preview for two teams that probably would meet in

the first round if Oakland holds off Anaheim and Seattle for the AL

West crown.

Game notes
John Mabry homered in the sixth for Oakland. ... Tejada is

second in the AL behind Alex Rodriguez with 115 RBI. ... The Twins

are expected to activate LHP Eric Milton in time to start against

Seattle on Monday. Milton, who leads the Twins with 13 victories,

has been out since Aug. 7 after minor knee surgery to repair a

small tear in his meniscus. ... With thousands of fans waving his

bobblehead doll, Jermaine Dye went 1-for-4, grounding into a double

play and striking out with the bases loaded in the first inning.