- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 17, 2010

OAKLAND, Calif. | Ryan Sweeney has the longest hitting streak in the majors this season, yet he’s not interested in talking about it.

With the Oakland Athletics off to its best start since 1992, Sweeney’s focus is on bigger issues.

“As long as we’re winning it doesn’t really matter to me,” said Sweeney after hitting a game-ending two-run single with one out in the ninth inning to give the A’s a 4-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles on Saturday.

“I’m not too worried about hitting streaks,” he added. “It’s the beginning of the season and I’m obviously trying to get as many hits as I can. I’ve had slow Aprils so I’m just trying to stay consistent throughout the whole year.”

Sweeney’s hit capped a stirring comeback for Oakland and marked the A’s third walkoff win of the season.

Adam Rosales singled leading off the ninth and advanced to second on a sacrifice. Rajai Davis struck out but reached base on a wild pitch before the Orioles opted to intentionally walk Daric Barton and load the bases. Sweeney, who singled in the first to extend his hitting streak to 12 games, followed with a single to right to drive in pinch-runner Eric Patterson — he ran for Rosales at second base — and Davis, who easily scored ahead of the throw from Baltimore right fielder Nick Markakis.

Jerry Blevins (2-0) pitched an inning for the win, Oakland’s ninth straight at home against Baltimore. The A’s are 9-4, their best start after 13 games since 1992, and moved five games over .500 for the first time since July 19, 2008.

“We just grind out runs and sometimes we score a bunch,” said Sweeney, who also had a sacrifice fly in the fifth. “The main thing is our pitchers hold (teams) to two runs or less a game, and that’s huge confidence for us because we feel like we’re always in games.”

For the Orioles, it was another frustrating day in their terrible opening month.

They fell to 1-11, their worst start since opening the 1988 season with 21 consecutive losses, and lost third baseman Miguel Tejada to a possible groin strain in the sixth inning.

Baltimore stranded nine runners and is 2 for 47 with men in scoring position this season. The Orioles also committed their fourth error in the last three games which led to an unearned run off starter Jeremy Guthrie in the fifth.

Not even a players-only meeting in the clubhouse before the game could shake the Orioles out of their slump. Baltimore has already fallen 7 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and manager Dave Trembley is starting to show the strain.

Trembley, who has tried to maintain an upbeat attitude, bristled at repeated questions about his team’s lack of success before abruptly ending his pregame chat with reporters before Saturday’s game. Afterward, he was at a loss to explain the Orioles’ latest setback.

“You’d have to be in here living it and seeing it to believe it,” said Trembley, whose team has lost six games decided by two runs or less this season. “I apologize if you think I’ve been a little short but this is not easy.”

It could get rougher for Baltimore.

Tejada appeared to slow slightly while running toward first base and went into a headfirst slide. He was safe but lay on the ground atop the bag in pain as a team trainer rushed out. After a brief examination, Tejada was removed from the game and replaced by pinch-runner Cesar Izturis.

Trembley said he was uncertain of Tejada’s condition after the game but the veteran infielder told reporters he had a groin strain that isn’t likely to keep him out very long.

Baltimore starter Jeremy Guthrie gave up six hits and two runs but pitched with runners in scoring position in all but one of his six-plus innings.

The Orioles scored a pair of unearned runs off Oakland starter Justin Duchscherer in the sixth inning then took a 3-2 lead on Ty Wiggington’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.

NOTES: Oakland RHP Michael Wuertz pitched one shutout inning in the minors while he continues to rehab from tendinitis in his pitching shoulder. … 2B Mark Ellis missed his sixth straight game because of a sore left hamstring and A’s manager Bob Geren said it’s 50-50 whether Ellis will play Sunday. … Baltimore RHP Koji Uehara (hamstring) threw batting practice without problems and will pitch in a simulated game Monday. … Oakland’s Davis had his 100th career stolen base in the third inning. … The A’s honored longtime Coliseum announcer Roy Steele before the game. Steele, 76, threw out the ceremonial first pitch and his likeness was featured on a bobblehead doll given away to fans.

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