- The Washington Times - Monday, September 2, 2002

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Over and over again, the ball left Miguel Tejada's bat and landed in the left-field seats. Each time, the Coliseum crowd cheered wildly as Tejada screamed with joy and pumped his arms while rounding the bases.
The televisions in the Oakland clubhouse played just one program after the Athletics won their 18th straight game and every time, Tejada was the star.
Tejada hit a dramatic three-run homer as the A's blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning, then rallied to beat the Minnesota Twins 7-5 yesterday to extend baseball's best streak in 49 years.
Everyone in Oakland was in a bit of disbelief particularly the A's clubhouse staffers, who played the final at-bat on a continuous loop.
"Every year, I take all my tapes back home [to the Dominican Republic], and I show them to my dad," Tejada said. "This one might break. I'm going to watch it every day."
The first game-ending homer of Tejada's career extended the majors' longest winning streak since 1953, when the New York Yankees also won 18 in a row, on a day it seemed certain to continue and then seemed certain to end when Oakland allowed three solo homers in the top of the ninth.
"This thing has a life of its own," Oakland manager Art Howe said of the longest streak in franchise history, besting the 17-gamer by the 1931 Philadelphia A's. "I can't say I'm surprised by anything that happens. We sort of blew that game, but Miggy found a way to get it for us anyway."
Matthew LeCroy, Corey Koskie and Mike Cuddyer homered for Minnesota in an improbable rally that ruined the complete-game hopes of Mark Mulder and sent the Coliseum into stunned, empty silence.
But in the ninth, Ramon Hernandez walked and Ray Durham singled against ace closer Eddie Guardado (1-3). Pinch-hitter Olmedo Saenz struck out, setting the stage for Tejada's homer.
"While I was running, I looked up and I saw my dad [in a luxury box]," Tejada said. "He was jumping. It was funny to see him jumping. That's where I pointed."
At Howe's urging, Tejada stepped out of the dugout moments later for a curtain call.
"I threw a fastball low, but it caught too much of the plate, and he reached down and got it," Guardado said. "As soon as he got it in the air, I knew it was gone. What are you going to do? Tejada is an All-Star."
Tejada also hit an early two-run homer, driving in five runs on three hits.
"MVP. Period. Three letters describe that guy," said A's closer Billy Koch (7-2), who gave up Cuddyer's go-ahead homer but got the victory. "I don't think there's any other choice. If he wasn't on this team, where would we be?"
By sweeping AL Central-leading Minnesota, the A's won their ninth straight series. When ace Barry Zito goes for his 20th win today against Kansas City, the A's have a shot to tie the AL record of 19 straight victories set by the White Sox in 1906 and tied by the Yankees in 1947.


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