- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 28, 2005

BALTIMORE — The Oakland Athletics are hitting with gusto again after a run of 13 games in which they couldn’t score more than five runs.

The Baltimore Orioles can only hope for a similar revival, or their fleeting quest to end a streak of seven straight losing seasons will soon be over.

Bobby Crosby and Eric Chavez hit successive homers in a seven-run third inning, and Oakland used a 15-hit attack to cruise past the struggling Orioles 12-3 yesterday.

Mark Ellis homered and drove in three runs, Jay Payton tied a career high with four hits and Crosby had three hits and scored twice to help Oakland win its fourth straight and closed within a half-game of AL West-leading Los Angeles.

Before their 9-2 win over Detroit on Wednesday, the A’s had lost seven of eight — mainly because they couldn’t muster enough runs to back up their solid pitching.

Their offense isn’t a problem anymore: Oakland has averaged nine runs a game during its winning streak.

“We were contagiously all bad at the same time, now we’re contagiously all swinging the bats pretty good,” said Payton, who went 4-for-5 and scored three runs. “Baseball’s a funny game. You can’t figure it out. When it’s good, you just try to enjoy it as long as you can.”

For the most part, Oakland has been very good over the past three months. Since June29, the A’s have gone 57-24 and are tied with the New York Yankees for the wild-card lead.

Joe Kennedy (3-0) pitched five innings of four-hit ball in his first start with Oakland since joining the team in a July13 trade with Colorado. The left-hander started for Rich Harden, who has a strained muscle in his right side.

“Kennedy coming out of the bullpen, that’s a pretty outstanding performance by him,” A’s manager Ken Macha said. “Giving up one run in five innings is pretty good.”

Melvin Mora homered for the Orioles, who have lost seven of eight. During that run, Baltimore has been held to one run in four games and has scored more than four runs only once.

The Orioles stranded 12 runners on Friday night in a 4-1 loss and left nine on base yesterday, scoring only three runs on 11 hits.

“The good sign here is that there are people in scoring position and we’re getting them on a little bit more,” interim manager Sam Perlozzo said. “The next step is getting them in.”

Baltimore committed three errors in falling to 10-11 under Perlozzo, who took over for Lee Mazzilli on Aug.4.

Right fielder Sammy Sosa missed a second straight game for the Orioles after having a growth removed from under the nail of his right big toe Friday, and Perlozzo rested first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, who is 2-for-20 since returning on Aug.11 from a 10-day suspension for testing positive for steroids.

Baltimore starter Eric DuBose, who allowed one hit over six shutout innings against Oakland just 10 days earlier, gave up a run and two hits in the first inning. Crosby singled with two outs, advanced on a walk and scored on a single by Payton.

By the third inning, DuBose (1-2) was gone. After Mark Kotsay hit a leadoff single, Crosby and Chavez slammed 0-1 pitches over the right-field wall. Payton followed with a single and Dan Johnson walked before Perlozzo summoned James Baldwin from the bullpen.

Ellis hit a fly ball to right that B.J. Surhoff dropped, allowing Payton to score, and Bobby Kielty followed with an RBI single. Nick Swisher made the first out of the inning on a grounder before Jason Kendall hit a sacrifice fly to make it 8-0.

“When we were going through that rough streak of losing those games, we weren’t scoring for the first five innings,” Macha said. “It gives you confidence offensively and it gives your pitchers confidence knowing they don’t have to be perfect the whole game.”

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