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Tejada's single completes A's big comeback

9/17/2002

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The American League West race seems destined to be
decided in close games. That's just fine with the Oakland
Athletics, who finally worked their late-inning magic against the
Anaheim Angels.

Miguel Tejada singled home the winning run in the ninth inning
as the A's snapped Anaheim's six-game winning streak and tied the
Angels for first place in the division Monday night with a 4-3
victory.

Ray Durham and Jermaine Dye homered for the A's, who opened a
key four-game series by handing Anaheim just its second defeat in 18
games. Both teams are 94-56 with 12 games to go in baseball's most
competitive division race.

The Angels hadn't lost since a 2-1 defeat at home to the A's
last Monday. Anaheim followed that defeat with three consecutive victories over Oakland in which the Angels' bullpen was
outstanding, particularly in a pair of one-run triumphs.

A few days later and a few hundred miles to the north, the A's
took the first step in returning the favor with their major
league-leading 30th one-run victory -- and yet another hero turn for
Tejada, their All-Star shortstop.

''It's a plus for us in the first game of the series to break
through their armor and let them know their bullpen isn't
untouchable,'' said Durham, who reached base four times.

Troy Glaus hit a three-run shot in the first inning to match a
major league record with a home run in four consecutive at-bats, but
that was all the offense Anaheim could muster.

Cory Lidle pitched seven strong innings, and Billy Koch (10-3)
worked the ninth for the victory.

Glaus, who hit a career-high three homers Sunday against Texas,
repeated a feat that had been accomplished 31 times before with a
long homer to right. He struck out in the fourth to end the streak.

Durham singled with one out in the ninth against Al Levine
(4-4). After pinch-hitter David Justice beat out a hard grounder
that was bobbled by Adam Kennedy for an infield hit, Tejada -- who
left six runners on base in his three previous at-bats -- singled up
the middle.

''Sometimes you have to stop being too anxious,'' said Tejada,
who struck out with two runners on in the third and with the bases
loaded in the fifth.

''You have to make him throw strikes. Olmedo (Saenz) said, 'Calm
down. We're going to win this game.' He knows me, and he knows I
like to swing hard, so he helped me relax.''

Durham slid home with the winning run, and the A's celebrated on
the infield in the same way they often did during their AL-record
20-game winning streak.

A day after the A's dropped out of first place in the AL West
for the first time since early in their streak, Oakland jumped
right back to the top with its favorite formula: timely homers and
outstanding pitching.

''There were some lightning bolts,'' Levine said. ''I cost us
the game. It's frustrating, but it's just one game. We have a good
bullpen, and we'll continue to pitch well.''

Both teams have plenty of motivation to win the West. The
champion almost certainly gets home-field advantage in a
first-round meeting with Minnesota, while the wild-card winner
probably opens the playoffs at Yankee Stadium -- a particularly
unpleasant prospect for the A's, who have lost to New York in each
of the past two postseasons.

After Glaus' homer, Lidle retired 17 of his next 19 hitters. He
finished with seven innings of five-hit ball in another strong
start.

''Offensively, we couldn't put a lot of pressure on him,''
Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said. ''He settled down and pitched a
terrific game.''

The A's wasted several scoring opportunities in the early
innings, but they chipped back on Dye's solo homer in the second
and Eric Chavez's sacrifice fly -- which was caught by Darin Erstad
with a spectacular, leaping grab at the wall -- in the fifth.

Anaheim rookie John Lackey was in trouble in four of his five
innings, walking five batters but getting several big outs to keep
the Angels ahead.

The A's tied it when Durham homered off reliever Scott
Schoeneweis leading off the seventh.

''I don't know where that came from,'' Durham said. ''I think it
was a jet stream blowing out. Balls don't carry here at night.''

Game notes
Garret Anderson was a last-minute scratch from Anaheim's
lineup with a slightly strained hamstring. Scioscia expects
Anderson to play Tuesday, when Jarrod Washburn will pitch on three
days of rest against Mark Mulder. ... Koch discovered in the eighth
inning that he was wearing the wrong uniform top. He warmed up in
his white shirt, then ran to the clubhouse and changed into his
green jersey. ''That's a first,'' Koch said. ''Hopefully, it's a
last. Actually, I might do it tomorrow. We won tonight.'' ... The
Angels brought up infielder Alfredo Amezaga and catcher Sal Fasano from
Triple-A Salt Lake and designated right-handed pitcher Elvin Nina for assignment.