<
>

Athletics at .500 ball for first time since early May

TORONTO (AP) -- Five weeks after bottoming out at 15 games below
.500, the Oakland Athletics are back at the break-even mark.

Bobby Crosby hit an inside-the-park home run, and Scott
Hatteberg hit a two-run single in the 11th inning to lead Oakland
to a 10-7 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

The A's have won 10 of 11 to move back to .500 (41-41) for the
first time since May 2. Oakland has gone 24-9 since it was 15 games
below .500 on May 29.

"That's a tremendous climb, a tremendous climb," Oakland
manager Ken Macha said. "I credit those guys out there. They are
absolutely going for it every night, fever pitched."

Nick Swisher, Mark Kotsay and Dan Johnson also homered for the
A's.

Justin Duchscherer (4-1) worked two innings and earned the
victory.

"We have that winning attitude, and it's back," Swisher said.
"In the month of May when we were struggling, it was really
frustrating. Now, we're back to our old ways and having fun."

Kotsay and Crosby led off the 11th with singles off Miguel
Batista (4-1) before Eric Chavez hit a long single off the left
field wall. Kotsay and Crosby didn't advance too far, fearing left
fielder Gabe Gross would make the catch.

Hatteberg followed with a single to right that scored two, and
two batters later, Swisher hit an RBI double to make it 10-7.

"It seemed like whoever was going to hit last was going to
win," Swisher said.

Kotsay, Oakland's center fielder, made a spectacular play in the
bottom of the 11th when he faked as if he was going to catch Gabe
Gross' blooper before letting it drop. He then flipped the ball
from his glove to his hand and forced out Russ Adams at second.

"That's one of the best plays I've ever seen," Macha said.
"What a play. And clutch. It could have been first and second and
nobody out. That's why people who don't see this guy everyday don't
appreciate what he does. That won the ball game."

The A's had a chance to close out the win in the bottom of the
ninth. But second baseman Marco Scutaro failed to turn a potential
game-ending double play when his throw to first sailed into the
stands and allowed Russ Adams to score the tying run.

Crosby's first career inside-the-park homer gave Oakland a 5-3
lead in the sixth. Crosby's ball hit off the center field wall
before deflecting off Vernon Wells, who crashed into the wall and
fell to the turf. The ball trickled about 10 feet away, far enough
for Crosby to race around the bases for the two-run homer.

"I was definitely out of gas. I was hurting for the next couple
of innings," Crosby said.

Toronto's Eric Hinske cut the deficit to 5-4 with an RBI
grounder in the bottom half of the sixth. Orlando Hudson homered in
the seventh to tie the game at 5-all. Hudson grabbed his right
hamstring while running toward second base and left the game after
hobbling home.

Hudson's homer barely cleared the wall in center, and he was
running full-out when he pulled up. The team said he had tightness
in his hamstring and will be reevaluated Wednesday.

"I don't think we can evaluate it now," Toronto manager John
Gibbons said. "We need to wait for the body to cool off."

Swisher gave Oakland a 6-5 lead with his homer off Vinnie Chulk
in the eighth. Kotsay also homered off Chulk in the inning, giving
Oakland a 7-5 lead.

Toronto's Gregg Zaun homered off Kiko Calero in the bottom half
of the inning.

Reed Johnson's two-run triple in the second gave Toronto a 2-0
lead. Oakland scored three runs in the fourth on Johnson's solo
homer and Crosby's two-run single.

Toronto's Russ Adams tied it with a sacrifice fly in the fifth
before Crosby hit his two-run homer in the sixth.

Oakland starter Danny Haren allowed four runs on eight hits in
six innings in a no decision. It was just the second time in his
last 10 starts that Haren allowed more than three runs.

Game notes
Macha has ordered his players not to show up before 4 p.m.
for Wednesday's 7 p.m. game. Macha said his team always struggles
in the second game of East Coast trip, so he wants them well
rested. There is a $450 fine for an early arrival. ... Terrence
Long was the last A's player to hit an inside-the-park home run, on
May 9, 2003, against the New York Yankees.

MLB News