Zito takes no-hitter into 8th vs. fading M's

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Just about everyone in these parts is
screaming for Barry Zito to win the AL Cy Young award.

The Oakland Athletics ace wants no part of it, not yet anyway -- though he acknowledges he's making quite the campaign.

Zito held Seattle hitless until John Olerud singled to lead off
the eighth inning, and the Athletics defeated the struggling
Mariners 5-0 Friday night.

"I was glad it was over,'' Zito said. "I shouldn't focus on that kind of stuff. When it's over, we can get back down to business.''

Then he added, "It was a big time to do it.''

The A's, who remain tied with Anaheim for the AL West lead after
the Angels beat Texas 3-2, ended a three-game losing streak.

Seattle lost its fifth in a row and fell farther behind the A's
and Angels in its bid for the wild-card spot. The Mariners' losing
streak is their longest since they dropped eight straight from Aug.
12-20, 2000.

Zito (21-5), leading the league in wins, retired the first 16
batters before walking Dan Wilson on four pitches in the sixth.
Zito matched his season-best win streak of six in row.

"If I had to vote for a Cy Young winner, it would be for the young man who pitched today in Oakland,'' Mariners manager Lou Piniella said.

Olerud singled to center field to start the eighth and Ruben
Sierra followed with a single. After manager Art Howe visited the
mound, Zito retired Mike Cameron on a fly ball and got Wilson to
hit into a double play.

Zito was upset when he saw Howe coming, and quickly assured the
manager he would get the A's out of the inning.

"There was no way I was going to take him out at that point,'' Howe said.

Zito has never thrown a no-hitter, at least not in any game he would count. There may have been one in Little League, he said, "but I don't talk about Little League.''

He prefers to talk playoffs, and it's going to take more efforts
like the left-hander's gem Friday to secure a postseason berth.

Zito's brilliant season appeared as if it was about to get even
better as he bid to pitch Oakland's first no-hitter since Dave
Stewart did it against Toronto in 1990.

Zito draped a towel over his head in the dugout after the inning
in which he allowed his only two hits. The left-hander struck out
seven and walked one in eight innings. He has taken part in six of
Oakland's 18 shutouts this year.

Reliever Ricardo Rincon pitched a hitless ninth.

Howe says he doesn't need to make a Cy Young pitch for his top pitcher.

"His pitching speaks for itself. He's pitched great all year,'' Howe said. "I can't imagine anyone pitching better.''

Zito received plenty of run support, too, something the A's
lacked in their last series.

Ray Durham hit a solo home run in the seventh off Ismael Valdes
(8-11) and scored three runs. David Justice was 3-for-3 with an RBI
and scored a run for the A's, who returned home after a seven-game
roadtrip that included three straight losses at Anaheim.

Before the eighth, the Mariners only once came close to a hit
off Zito. Ichiro Suzuki hit a line drive in the fourth and left
fielder John Mabry made a diving catch.

Miguel Tejada singled in the first for his 188th hit of the
season, breaking Jose Canseco's Oakland record of 187 set in 1988.

Tejada, who entered the game hitting .311, also drove in a run
with a sacrifice fly in the fifth and scored in Oakland's two-run

Valdes allowed three runs and eight hits in seven innings for
the Mariners, who were swept in four games against Texas for the
first time in 10 years.

"We still have 16 games left, so we have to keep playing,''
Sierra said.

Game notes
Zito is 12-1 following an A's loss this year. ... Durham
made his first start at 2B since Aug. 3. He filled in for regular
Mark Ellis, who got the day off. ... Highlights of Oakland's
20-game win streak were shown on the big screen before the A's
batted in the first inning. ... Durham has scored 24 runs in his
last 21 games. ... Oakland won its 11th straight at home.