- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 13, 2003

OAKLAND, Calif. — When Ken Macha heard about Lou Piniella’s new blond hairdo, the Oakland Athletics manager considered doing something similar if the Athletics produced a five-game winning streak.

Think buzz cut.

Scott Hatteberg got Macha one day closer to being shorn, hitting a tiebreaking, two-run home run in the eighth inning yesterday as the A’s beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

Terrence Long had a three-run shot as the defending American League West champions won their fourth straight and matched their season high at 14 games over .500. The A’s are 7-5 during a 13-game homestand that ends today.

If they win one more, Macha said he probably will let someone cut his hair next week in Minnesota after the All-Star break. “I could auction off my silver hairs,” he has said.

Piniella dyed his locks after his Tampa Bay Devil Rays won three straight recently.

“He doesn’t want me to cut it,” said Hatteberg, who wears his hair shaggy. “I think [Tim Hudson] will do it.”

The A’s are 7-0 when Hatteberg homers this year, and 12 of his last 18 RBI have tied games or given the A’s the lead.

Hatteberg usually refuses to swing at the first pitch, but this time he figured the first one from former A’s reliever Buddy Groom might be his best chance. Five of Hatteberg’s seven home runs this season have come with runners aboard.

“I don’t like to swing at the first pitch. It’s my own philosophy,” he said. “[But] sometimes the first one is going to be your only one.”

Jim Mecir (2-1) pitched a scoreless inning for the win, and Keith Foulke worked the ninth for his 24th save in 28 chances.

Hector Carrasco (0-1) allowed a leadoff single to Mark Ellis in the eighth. One out later, Hatteberg connected off Groom, sending the ball over the wall in right field. Hatteberg entered the at-bat 1-for-7 with three strikeouts lifetime against Groom.

Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said after the game he might move the struggling Groom from setup man to middle relief and have B.J. Ryan pitch in Groom’s role.

“I seriously have to look at reversing his and Ryan’s roles for a while,” Hargrove said. “When all is said and done, Buddy will be good for us again.”

Long connected for his 10th homer on a 2-1 pitch from Pat Hentgen in the second, sending the ball into the right-field bleachers for a 3-0 lead. Long, who has a five-game hitting streak, hit a tiebreaking double in the seventh Friday night. He said after that game that he’s being more selective at the plate and it’s paying off.

Long is batting .327 (18-for-55) over his last 16 games. His streak of 456 straight games played ended June5 at Florida, but he’s determined to convince the A’s that he can still play every day.

John Halama made what probably was just a spot start because the A’s plan to call up right-hander Rich Harden from Class AAA Sacramento soon, perhaps just after the All-Star break.

“That’s to be discussed,” Macha said.

The left-hander began the season in the rotation, then was demoted to the bullpen. Macha was hopeful Halama would go five innings, but had Aaron Harang and starter Ted Lilly available for relief just in case. Halama allowed three runs — one earned — on six hits in five innings, striking out three and walking none.

After allowing three straight singles to start the third, Halama retired nine in a row before giving way to Chad Bradford to start the sixth. Bradford got five straight outs, including a great catch by David McCarty against the wall in left on a hard-hit ball by Jay Gibbons.

Oakland received another solid day of pitching after Mark Mulder and Hudson threw back-to-back complete games — the team’s first since July6-7, 2001, at Arizona, also by Mulder and Hudson.

The A’s also played spectacular defense. Aside from McCarty’s play, Long made a tough catch in the eighth, and shortstop Miguel Tejada had an athletic catch in the second.

Hentgen, who hasn’t won since May17, was solid in his ninth start of the season. Oakland’s Erubiel Durazo singled in the third, then Hentgen retired the next 14 hitters before Carrasco relieved in the eighth.

The Orioles scored two unearned runs in their three-run third when third baseman Eric Chavez fielded Melvin Mora’s bunt single and threw wildly past Hatteberg at first for a two-run error. Mora scored on Gibbons’ RBI groundout to make it 3-3.

Notes — Orioles outfielder Jack Cust, recalled after Thursday night’s game from Class AAA Ottawa, was delayed in Chicago for five hours and finally arrived in Oakland early yesterday morning to join the team. … The A’s sold out for the seventh time this season, drawing 44,807. … Halama hasn’t won since beating Chicago at home May8, a span of four starts. He has allowed 16 of the A’s 35 unearned runs this season.

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