A's increase AL West lead to three games


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- After Jermaine Dye's two home runs, David Justice told his teammate to make sure he keeps swinging that way
for another month.

"If Jermaine is hot, he can carry a ballclub,'' said Justice,
who dresses next to Dye in the Oakland clubhouse. "I said, 'Just
get hot for a month, that's all I ask.'''

Dye showed signs of it Sunday. He homered twice, including a
shot that initially was ruled foul, as the A's beat the Texas
Rangers 7-5 to maintain their lead in the AL West.

Scott Hatteberg added a two-run homer for the A's, who increased
their lead over second-place Anaheim to three games when the Angels
lost 3-2 at Seattle.

Oakland plays three games in Seattle and three in Texas to
finish the season. Anaheim is at Texas for three then home for
three with the Mariners.

"We have the edge,'' A's manager Art Howe said. "Every game we
take off the schedule they're going to run out of time.''

Mark Mulder (18-7) pitched six strong innings to win his fifth
straight decision as the A's won their fifth in a row and eighth of

Ricardo Rincon pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Billy Koch worked the
ninth for his 43rd save in 49 chances.

Ivan Rodriguez had three singles, drove in a run and scored for
the Rangers, who went 1-9 on their final road trip of the season.

Alex Rodriguez drove in a Texas run with a seventh-inning
double. He also struck three times.

"Discouraging isn't the word,'' Texas' Rafael Palmeiro said.
"We played so well at home and then we go out on this trip and we
can't do anything. You think you're going to at least win some
games on the road and then you don't.''

Dye homered off Chan Ho Park (9-7) in a three-run third that
also featured Hatteberg's two-run shot and a double by Ray Durham.

In the fifth, Dye hit an 0-1 pitch to left just inside the foul
pole, and third-base umpire Alfonso Marquez called foul.

Howe ran onto the field to argue and the umpires huddled in the
infield, then plate umpire Tim Welke ruled it a homer. It was Dye's
first multihomer game of the season and eighth of his career.

When asked about the power hitting of Dye, who's hitting .248
with 23 homers and 80 RBI, Howe said: "It's coming, it's coming.
It's a great time to get him locked in. It gives you another potent
bat in the middle of the order.''

To chants of "M-V-P,'' Miguel Tejada hit an RBI double in the
eighth for an insurance run.

Park walked three straight in the fourth to load the bases with
one out. Park got out of it unscathed when Hatteberg flied out to
center and Ramon Hernandez was thrown out at the plate after
tagging up.

Park gave up six runs on six hits with six walks in 4 1/3

"Sometimes things just happen and they all seem to go bad for
you,'' he said of his team's play. "Everything bad has come on
this trip. The walks just killed me today. There's no other way to
say it, walks are walks. It's not mechanics, they're not bad
pitches, they're walks. They cost us big today.''

Texas scored twice in the seventh with three straight hits off
reliever Chad Bradford, including A-Rod's RBI double. Mike Venafro
relieved and got pinch-hitter Rafael Palmeiro to pop out.

Jeff Tam came in with one strike against Kevin Mench, and Todd
Hollandsworth entered to pinch-hit. Hollandsworth flied out to end
the threat. Both Venafro and Tam are "on the bubble'' to make the
playoff roster, Howe said.

Mulder was tested in all but the first and fifth innings, when
he retired the side.

The left-hander escaped a third-inning jam with minimal damage.
He gave up a leadoff single to Bill Haselman and a double to Jason
Hart for the former Oakland player's first major league hit.

Mulder struck out Ruben Rivera, then allowed an RBI single to
Michael Young that tied the game at 1-all. After a walk to Herbert
Perry, Mulder struck out A-Rod for the second time in the game and
got Ivan Rodriguez to line out to center.

The splitter to A-Rod was a key pitch, Mulder said.

"It was a little bit of a struggle,'' he said. "I didn't have
my best stuff, but at the times I needed it, I made some good

Mulder gave up three runs and three hits, striking out five, as
the A's tied a franchise record with their 54th home victory of the
season. The mark was set in 1975 and matched in 1988 and '89.

Game notes
Oakland INF/OF Jason Grabowski made his major league debut
in left field, going 0-for-1. ... A's INF/OF John Mabry was not
with the team Sunday because his wife is expecting a baby. Mabry
likely will rejoin the A's on Tuesday in Seattle. ... Park has 23
walks in September, his most for any month this season.