Blanton pitches into ninth as A's win 10th straight

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Throughout the Oakland Athletics' latest

June run, some surprising names have played key roles in keeping

the A's on a roll.

Elias Says...

The Athletics extended their winning streak to 10 games with their sweep of the Dodgers. In recent years, Oakland built a well-deserved reputation as a "second-half" team; the A's record improved after the All-Star break in each of the past seven seasons. Over that span (1999 to 2005), Oakland had three winning streaks of at least ten games (11 in 2001, 20 in 2002 and 10 in 2003), and each began in August. The A's current winning streak is their longest prior to the All-Star break since 1988 (14 straight wins overlapping April and May).

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Brad Halsey. Steve Karsay. Bobby Kielty. Jay Payton. Even

seldom-used catcher Adam Melhuse.

That deep bench general manager Billy Beane built last winter is

showing it is every bit as reliable as the A's thought -- and

Oakland is getting the stellar starting pitching that has defined

this organization for years, too.

Joe Blanton pitched into the ninth and Kielty hit a two-run

triple to help the A's sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 5-2 win

Sunday for their season-best 10th straight victory.

"I've never been part of 10 in a row in baseball or 10 in a row

period," Kielty said. "We're playing well right now. It seems

like the month of June is the month the A's get hot, and we're

running with it again now."

Blanton, who retired the side in order on six pitches in the

eighth, left to a standing ovation after allowing consecutive

singles to J.D. Drew and Matt Kemp in the ninth.

The A's looked surprisingly lively in establishing the best

winning streak in the majors this year considering these teams

played 17 innings Saturday night -- with Oakland winning 5-4 in 5

hours, 2 minutes.

Payton had an RBI double and Marco Scutaro had three hits, an

RBI and stole his first base of the year as the A's topped the

nine-game winning streaks San Diego and Philadelphia produced this


This marks Oakland's longest winning streak since the A's also

won 10 in a row from Aug. 23 to Sept. 2, 2003.

The A's improved to 14-2 in June following a 12-17 May. In May

last year, Oakland went 7-20 with two eight-game losing streaks

before getting things going in June.

Blanton (7-6) won back-to-back starts for the first time since

April 24 and 30. He allowed nine hits, struck out three and walked

one in an impressive 96-pitch performance before closer Huston

Street got the final three outs for his 17th save in 21 chances.

Street blew his fourth save Saturday night.

Street got pinch-hitter Jeff Kent to line out to end it, with

fans chanting "Street! Street!"

"They pitched well and they're playing well," Drew said.

"There were a lot of first-pitch strikes."

Nomar Garciaparra hit a solo home run in the sixth for the

Dodgers, the first homer Blanton had given up at home this season --

a span of 44 innings. Ramon Martinez also drove in a run for Los

Angeles with a fifth-inning single that snapped Blanton's home

scoreless innings streak at 21.

Blanton stuck around for all 17 innings Saturday night, then

worked quickly Sunday.

"I tried to make it as quick as possible," he said.

Aaron Sele (3-2) saw his winless stretch reach four starts as he

lost his second straight outing. Sele gave way to Odalis Perez

after only four innings, and Perez pitched a season-high four

innings of relief.

"Aaron had trouble getting the ball down all day and he ended

up paying for it," Dodgers manager Grady Little said.

Sele plunked A's No. 9 hitter Mike Rouse in the fourth after

Blanton hit Garciaparra in the top half of the inning. The

right-hander allowed five runs and seven hits, walked three and

didn't have a strikeout for the second straight start.

Oakland's Eric Chavez, nursing pain in his hamstring where it

attaches to the buttocks, was given the choice to take the day off

but he opted to play designated hitter and went 0-for-4 with two


A's catcher Jason Kendall told manager Ken Macha he wanted to

play -- even after working all 17 innings Saturday night.

"He doesn't ever want out of the game," Macha said.

Oakland's Dan Johnson went 0-for-2 with two walks to have his

career-high tying 10-game hitting streak snapped.

Sandy Alomar Jr. started at catcher on his 40th birthday in

place of Russell Martin for the Dodgers, who concluded a nine-game

road trip by losing for the fifth time in six games.

Oakland finished an unbeaten homestand of six or more games for

the first time since Aug. 23-29, 2004, when the A's went 7-0

against Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

Game notes
Oakland CF Mark Kotsay missed his third straight game with

back spasms. ... The A's won their fourth straight series against

the Dodgers. ... Kemp stole his fourth base in the second. ...

Kendall has started both games of a doubleheader six times in his

career, but only four of those times did he start the following

day. ... Blanton had lost his only other interleague start this

season, to San Francisco on May 21. ... The A's sold out for the

second straight game with a crowd of 35,077, which included 1,000

standing-room only tickets. ... Karsay, Saturday's winning pitcher,

announced his retirement after the game after an 11-year big league