When Eric Byrnes completed the latest remarkable feat in his breakout season with the Oakland Athletics, his parents were among the San Francisco Giant fans who rose and cheered.
Byrnes hit a ninth-inning triple to become the 16th player in franchise history to hit for the cycle, Mark Mulder became the major leagues’ fourth 11-game winner, and the Athletics beat the Giants, 5-2, Sunday in the finale of the Bay Bridge Series.
Byrnes, who grew up in Mountain View, Calif., as a die-hard Giant fan, matched the Athletics’ franchise record with five hits. He singled in the first, doubled in the second and seventh, homered in the fifth, and got a standup triple when rookie Carlos Valderrama fell while misplaying Byrnes’ sinking liner in center field.
When he reached third base, he got a stirring ovation from Giant fans.
“It’s hard to describe the feelings that went through my body,” said Byrnes, who thought about the importance of the series every day this weekend as he drove past Candlestick Park on his way to Pacific Bell Park.
His parents, Jim and Judy, were in attendance Sunday, as were more friends than he could count.
“Half of them are still Giants fans -- punks,” Byrnes said with a grin. “Half of them were leading the cheer last night: ‘What’s the matter with Byrnes? He’s a bum!’ I guess this is one way to shut them up.”
Byrnes extended his latest hitting streak to 12 games while becoming the first player to hit for the cycle at Pac Bell -- and the first to do it for Oakland since Miguel Tejada on Sept. 29, 2001, against Seattle.
With his five hits, he improved his average to .336 -- fifth in the American League. He was an Oakland reserve the last two seasons, but Jermaine Dye’s early-season injury problems allowed Byrnes to play every day. Now, Byrnes -- a former UCLA player -- has a shot at making the All-Star team.
“You can’t say enough about him,” Manager Ken Macha said. “Who knows where we’d be without him? We knew he had this energy about him, but he hadn’t had a chance to play every day. The amount of work he’s put in really prepared him to take over this season.”
Byrnes led off the game with a single, had a run-scoring double in the second inning and hit a homer to center in the fifth against reliever Chad Zerbe. Byrnes’ seventh-inning double into the left-field corner might have been a triple with Barry Bonds in left -- but Bonds had the day off, and Pedro Feliz got the ball back to the infield in time.
Byrnes’ big day overshadowed another strong outing from Mulder, who gave up six hits and one run in seven innings to improve his record to 11-5.
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*--* The best interleague records by won-loss percentage: Team W-L Pct Oakland 75-47 615 Florida 70-46 603 Atlanta 71-47 602 New York (AL) 71-48 597 San Francisco 61-49 555