- The Washington Times - Friday, August 27, 2004

OAKLAND, Calif. — Barry Zito won on an empty stomach.

“It was weird. I was airy, a little bit manic,” Zito said. “I didn’t eat right. I was just crazy. I couldn’t really focus on anything. Once I became aware I was wacked out, I tried to slow things down, like I was sleepwalking.”

Nonetheless, the left-hander pitched well enough to win as the Oakland Athletics earned their ninth victory in 10 games, completing a four-game sweep of the reeling Baltimore Orioles with a 9-4 victory yesterday.

Zito said he ate a bagel before the game but just a protein shake for dinner Wednesday night. He munched on an energy bar in the middle innings. He called it “irresponsible” and said he’ll make sure to eat better before his next day start.

“We send him home early and he comes in late and still can’t get breakfast, huh?” teammate Scott Hatteberg said, smiling, as if he’d seen it before.

Erubiel Durazo hit a three-run homer and Eric Chavez also connected for the American League West-leading A’s, who have a one-game lead over idle Anaheim. Hatteberg added a three-run double for Oakland, which swept the season series 7-0.

The Orioles have lost 10 straight overall, their longest skid since ending the 2002 season with 12 losses. The skid followed an eight-game winning streak that had moved Baltimore within two games of .500.

“When we swept Texas, we had confidence,” right fielder Jay Gibbons said, referring to a four-game series earlier this month. “Now we seemed to have lost it.”

It was a frustrating series for Orioles All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada, who signed with the A’s at 17 out of the Dominican Republic but signed a six-year, $72million deal with the Orioles in the offseason. Tejada went 1-for-15 in the series, getting a standing ovation after his final at-bat. He also received a lengthy ovation during the opener Monday night but showed his frustration several times during the series.

“I’m real happy I’m leaving now,” he said. “It’s over.”

He ended an 0-for-13 stretch with a bloop single leading off the sixth, but then got thrown out at second trying to extend it to a double after shortstop Bobby Crosby lost the ball in the sun.

A’s manager Ken Macha and Orioles skipper Lee Mazzilli both thought Tejada was trying too hard to play well.

“I’m not trying too hard,” Tejada said. “They just got me out. It’s not the first time I went so many at-bats without hits. They just pitched me good.”

This has been an up-and-down year for Zito (10-9), who won the AL Cy Young Award two years ago. He has felt better about his recent outings, but still doesn’t look completely comfortable. He allowed four runs and four hits in 51/3 innings, struck out four and walked four. Orioles starter Daniel Cabrera (9-7) was the loser.

“He didn’t throw well — He was up in the zone all day,” Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. “When you walk five guys in 22/3 innings, you’re not pitching well. He was mentally sloppy today.”

In Wednesday night’s game, Marco Scutaro’s three-run homer off reliever B.J. Ryan with two out in the bottom of the ninth inning gave the A’s a 3-0 victory and ruined newcomer Bruce Chen’s first big league start since last year. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and allowed only three hits in seven innings.


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