- The Washington Times - Monday, June 8, 2009

OAKLAND, Calif. | The last-place Oakland Athletics are on quite a roll - their rookie pitchers, in particular.

Vin Mazzaro pitched into the eighth inning, Jason Giambi drew a bases-loaded walk in the first and the A’s beat the Baltimore Orioles 3-0 on Sunday for their season-high sixth straight win.

“This is an awesome feeling,” Mazzaro said.

After Adam Jones led off the game with a single, Mazzaro (2-0) retired 15 of the next 16 Orioles hitters - an impressive showing for his second career start and first at home. The 22-year-old right-hander was called up Tuesday to make his major league debut and earned the win against the White Sox in Chicago. This time, he left to a standing ovation when he walked off the mound in the eighth following Robert Andino’s one-out single.

“I was definitely more relaxed,” Mazzaro said. “That first game really helped.”

With only two hits, Oakland matched its longest winning streak against the Orioles at eight games and earned a three-game sweep for the first time this year. This is the Athletics’ longest winning streak since Aug. 11 to Aug. 16, 2006, when they also won six in a row. Oakland’s starters have won six straight games for the first time since getting eight straight victories from June 8 to June 16, 2006.

Mazzaro, Brett Anderson, Trevor Cahill and Josh Outman are the rookie starters in an inexperienced Oakland rotation.

“They’re attacking the strike zone and putting hitters away,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “That’s big. They’re getting more comfortable.”

Andrew Bailey pitched the ninth for his fourth save, completing the team’s third shutout - and third in the past six games - after not getting any in the first 49. The Orioles were blanked for the third time.

This was a bad day for Baltimore from the start. Rich Hill failed to get out of the first inning, the second time it happened for an Orioles starter during the series. Jeremy Guthrie gave up six runs in the first inning of Friday night’s 9-1 loss.

“The game is pitching and defense, and it’s starting pitching,” Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. “When you’re playing a three-game series and two out of the three you’re taking your starting pitcher out in the first inning, that ought to tell you your starting pitching’s not giving you what you need to have a chance.”

Hill (2-1) walked three straight batters with one out in the first and forced in runs with a free pass and by plunking Suzuki with a pitch. Giambi served as the designated hitter rather than playing first base to give his legs a break after he left Saturday night’s 9-4 win with tightness in his right calf.

“It was disappointing to go out there and pitch that terrible inning,” Hill said. “I really don’t think it was mechanical at all. Mechanically I felt good. Just resultwise it wasn’t there.”

The Orioles, who have lost 24 of their past 32 games at the Coliseum, outhit Oakland 5-2 but couldn’t capitalize in their fifth straight loss and seventh in eight games. They concluded a 1-5 road trip and have dropped 21 of their past 26 away from Camden Yards.

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