Scutaro's ninth-inning single leads A's past Yankees

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Marco Scutaro chalks up most of his

game-winning hits to good timing. Oakland general manager Billy

Beane called this one.

Scutaro singled over left fielder Hideki Matsui's head in the

bottom of the ninth inning, giving the Athletics a 4-3 victory over

the New York Yankees in the rain Tuesday night.

"I don't know, it's just good timing I guess," Scutaro said.

"Billy told me before the game that I'd get the winning hit. I

just got the opportunity. I'm not an RBI guy. I just try for good

at-bats."

Nick Swisher and Eric Chavez homered off Yankees starter Mike

Mussina, who struck out six in seven solid innings but failed to

earn a decision after 102 pitches.

"I'm not really worried," Mussina said. "You've got to get to

100 pitches some time. I'll see how I feel tomorrow. Tomorrow and

the next day will be the test to see how I come out of it."

Milton Bradley drew a leadoff walk in the ninth against loser

Scott Proctor, then moved to second on Jason Kendall's sacrifice.

Swisher was intentionally walked to bring up Scutaro, playing in

place of injured shortstop Bobby Crosby.

It was Scutaro's sixth game-ending hit during three seasons with

the A's. He has five singles and a home run. Scutaro raised his

right arm in the air in celebration, then hit his fist on his chest

before being hugged by teammates.

The A's turned to closer and reigning AL Rookie of the Year

Huston Street (1-0) to start the ninth and he escaped unscathed

after allowing Johnny Damon's one-out double. It began raining

after Gary Sheffield walked with two outs in the inning.

Jorge Posada hit a go-ahead single in the sixth and drove in

another run on a groundout a night after he was the lone New York

starter without a hit in Monday's season-opening 15-2 rout of the

A's.

Chavez hit the first pitch he saw in the sixth over the

right-field wall to tie the game at 3.

It was a tough night for Proctor, who rejoined the team Monday

after returning home to Miami for four days to be with his wife and

newborn daughter, who had surgery to repair the aortic arch in her

heart.

"I felt fine to go today," Proctor said. "There's no excuse

for not getting it done."

His teammates and manager know the Yankees had plenty of

opportunities to win, and they didn't blame the loss on Proctor.

"I think he certainly understands his responsibility," manager

Joe Torre said. "More than anything, it was the fact that he

hadn't pitched more so than the mental aspect."

A's right-hander Rich Harden made his first start since last

Aug. 19 after being sidelined for more than a month with a strained

muscle in his upper back below his throwing shoulder. He made three

relief outings in September and finished with 10 wins in 19 starts.

He spent time on the disabled list earlier in the season with a

strained left oblique muscle.

The 24-year-old Harden allowed three runs and seven hits in 5

2/3 innings, struck out four and walked four in a 103-pitch outing.

The teams were happy to get the game in after a heavy rainstorm

drenched the area overnight and for most of the day -- avoiding a

day-night doubleheader on Wednesday that had been the contingency

plan if the weather didn't cooperate.

Alex Rodriguez singled twice, grounded out and struck out twice

a night after hitting a grand slam and getting five RBI in

Monday's victory. He struck out to end the seventh with Damon on

second.

"When you have so many different opportunities and can't

deliver the big hit, you get an 'L," Rodriguez said. "That was

the big difference between yesterday and today. Yesterday we

delivered the big blow."

A-Rod bounced his batting helmet to the dirt after trying to

stretch a single into a double and getting caught in a rundown to

end the third with Sheffield in scoring position. With runners on

second and third in the first, Harden struck out Sheffield,

Rodriguez and Jason Giambi in succession.

"That's not what I wanted to do in my first start and my first

inning," Harden said. "I was a little excited and just needed to

get through that. I threw too many pitches and that killed me later

in the game. I had nothing left at the end of the game."

Frank Thomas drew a one-out walk in the sixth, marking the first

time Oakland's new designated hitter had to run the bases in spring

training or the regular season -- excluding his 449th career home

run Monday. The 37-year-old Thomas missed all but 34 games last

season with the White Sox because of separate left ankle fractures.

Mussina retired the first seven A's hitters before Swisher's

homer in the third. Mark Kotsay hit an RBI single three batters

later to give the A's a 2-1 lead.

Mussina, a 13-game winner last season, plunked Kendall leading

off the seventh, Kendall's 198th hit by pitch to tie him with Frank

Robinson for seventh on the career list.Game notes
The Yankees were 1-for-15 with runners in scoring position.

... Derek Jeter doubled in the first and raised his lifetime

batting average against Harden to .462 (6-for-13) ... Crosby is

expected to miss about a week with a bruised and cut index finger

on his left hand sustained when Robinson Cano spiked him sliding

into second Monday.