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A’s Play Down Their Return to Top

From Associated Press

The Oakland Athletics had just moved into first place in the AL West, and the reaction in the clubhouse was a collective yawn.

“It’s not important at all. It’s really insignificant,” third baseman Eric Chavez said Sunday after Oakland rolled to its fifth victory in a row, a 10-3 rout of the Orioles at Baltimore.

Dan Haren (11-10) pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, and the A’s hit three home runs in reaching double figures in scoring for a second consecutive game.

That, more than the fact that Oakland moved half a game ahead of the Angels in the standings, was what mattered most to the charging A’s.

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“Just a week ago we couldn’t find a hit,” said Chavez, referring to a stretch in which Oakland lost seven of eight, including three in a row to Baltimore. “Hitting is really going to dictate how well we do the next month.”

Scott Hatteberg, Marco Scutaro and Mark Ellis homered to help the A’s pass the Angels, who lost to Tampa Bay, 2-1.

Oakland, which has outscored the Orioles 26-7 in the first three games of the series, will seek its first four-game sweep in Baltimore today.

The Orioles issued a season-high 11 walks and lost for the eighth time in nine games to fall a season-high seven games under .500.

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New York 10, Kansas City 3 -- Jason Giambi broke out of a four-for-38 slump with a pair of home runs and drove in seven runs at New York, leading the Yankees to a sweep of their weekend series with the Royals and a half-game lead over the Angels in the wild-card race.

Giambi’s 22nd home run came in the third inning against Zack Greinke (3-16), and gave him 1,000 runs batted in. Two innings later, he hit his 23rd homer for his 1,500th hit.

In the sixth, the Royals walked Alex Rodriguez to load the bases, and Giambi followed with a two-run single to give him seven RBIs in a game for the third time in his career.

Al Leiter (4-3) earned his third win in a row, limiting the Royals to two hits in six innings.

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Cleveland 4, Toronto 1 -- Casey Blake and Aaron Boone homered against Josh Towers (10-10), and Jake Westbrook pitched into the seventh inning at Toronto to lead the Indians to their ninth victory in 11 games.

The Indians are one game behind the Yankees in the wild-card race.

Westbrook (13-13) is 7-1 over his last eight starts.

Seattle 9, Chicago 2 -- Former Mariner Freddy Garcia gave up a season-high eight runs in 4 1/3 innings in the White Sox’s loss at Seattle.

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After flirting with a no-hitter in his previous start, Garcia (11-7) made his shortest outing of the season, leaving after the Mariners scored three runs in the fifth to take an 8-2 lead.

Garcia, who pitched with Seattle from 1999 to 2004, dropped to 0-3 with an 8.35 earned-run average against his former team this year.

He made his first start at Safeco Field since being traded June 27, 2004.

Jamie Moyer (11-5) improved his record at home to 8-0 this season.

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Boston 11, Detroit 3 -- David Wells pitched seven strong innings, and the Red Sox had their third consecutive offensive outburst against the Tigers at Boston.

The Red Sox were led by David Ortiz’s 33rd homer and three RBIs, Bill Mueller’s home run and three hits, and Johnny Damon’s two hits and three RBIs.

Wells (11-6) gave up three runs, two earned, and nine hits with a season-high seven strikeouts. He didn’t walk a batter for the sixth time in his last seven starts.

Texas 2, Minnesota 1 -- Pinch-hitter Hank Blalock’s infield single drove in the winning run in the ninth inning, lifting the Rangers at Arlington, Texas.

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Blalock had been benched because he was in a 13-for-63 slump.

Doug Brocail (5-2) pitched a scoreless ninth for the win.


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