<
>

Hatteberg's two-out double wins it for A's

9/27/2002

SEATTLE (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics were all smiles, high-fives
and handshakes on the infield grass at Safeco Field. Then it was
party time inside the visitors clubhouse.

Miguel Tejada tied the game with a ninth-inning homer and Scott
Hatteberg hit a two-out, two-run double in the 10th as Oakland beat
the Seattle Mariners 5-3 Thursday, clinching the American League West
championship for the second time in three years.

''This group of guys is so family-like,'' Hatteberg said. ''It
makes it sweeter and it helps us. We are really excited.''

Oakland, which had failed to hold eighth-inning leads against
Seattle the previous two days, opens the AL playoffs at home
Tuesday against Minnesota. The A's are a half-game behind the New
York Yankees, who play Anaheim in the first round, for home-field
advantage throughout the playoffs.

The A's wore championship T-shirts over their uniforms and
donned ''2002 AL West champions'' hats in a clubhouse celebration
that lasted 40 minutes. David Justice danced for cameras, and
manager Art Howe was doused several times with champagne, beer and
Gatorade.

''We can kick back, enjoy it for a while and start to work hard
again tomorrow,'' said Billy Koch (11-4), who pitched two innings
for the victory. ''I don't know about any urgency, but we just
wanted to get it done, win, and wrap up the West. It feels good to
get it out of the way.''

After Hatteberg's hit off Shigetoshi Hasegawa (8-3) put Oakland
ahead 4-2, Tejada had a run-scoring single. Tejada, who went 4-for-5, had
tied the score with a one-out solo homer in the ninth off Kazuhiro
Sasaki, who blew a save for the eighth time in 45 chances.

''There weren't many guys hitting good against Sasaki,'' Tejada
said. ''I was happy I got a hit against him in that situation. The
only thing I said was, 'I want to be on base.' ... I didn't think
the ball would get out. I didn't think I hit it that hard.''

Tejada has a .306 batting average, 201 hits, 32 homers and 127
RBI, making him a strong candidate to become the AL's Most
Valuable Player.

''It topped off a fantastic year for him,'' Howe said. ''What
can I say? He played every single inning for us. Every time we
needed him, he stepped up and came through. He just had a
phenomenal season.''

It was subdued in the Mariners clubhouse.

''We were hoping they would do their celebrating somewhere
else,'' Seattle manager Lou Piniella said.

Seattle, which tied the major league record with 116 victories last
year before losing to the Yankees in the AL championship series,
was eliminated from postseason contention about 15 minutes before
the start of the game Thursday when Anaheim beat Texas 10-5.

''It wasn't as fun as it could have been,'' said Bret Boone, who
hit his 24th homer in the fourth. ''It was a longshot anyway. We
kept that glimmer alive for a long time. Over the last 10 games, we
showed a lot of character.''

The A's would have clinched earlier in the day if Anaheim had
lost at Texas.

''I don't think anybody wanted to back into it,'' Howe said.
''Even if the Rangers had won today, we didn't back into anything.
We had a great year and clinched it with a victory. We went our in
style today. That was great.''

There was little reaction from the fans at Safeco Field when the
Angels' game ended. The mood carried over to the Mariners.

''It was kind of somber going into the game,'' reliever Jeff
Nelson said. ''Everybody had some hope. When we saw that score, it
made things kind of meaningless.''

Seattle went ahead in the fourth on consecutive homers, Boone's
24th and Mike Cameron's 25th. Boone favored his right foot as he
rounded the bases, limping slightly because of a bruised right
heel.

Greg Myers pulled the A's to a run down in the eighth with a run-scoring
grounder that drove in John Mabry, who had walked.

Oakland's Cory Lidle allowed two runs and five hits in eight
innings, while Seattle's Joel Pineiro gave up five hits and four
walks in 5 1/3 shutout innings.

Game notes
The A's are the 18th team to win 100 games in consecutive
seasons. The last was the 1997-99 Atlanta Braves. The A's last
consecutive 100-victory seasons were in 1929-31, when the team was in
Philadelphia. ... Nelson was ejected in the eighth by plate umpire
Tim McClelland for arguing balls and strikes, just as Piniella was
on the field to make a change. ''Lou asked, 'Why did you throw him
out?' He said, 'Well, you were going to make a change anyway.'''
... Boone and Cameron combined for the seventh set of consecutive
homers by the Mariners this season. ... The sellout crowd of 45,822
set a Seattle single-season attendance record of 3,540,658, topping the 3,507,975 of last season. It was the 38th sellout at Safeco Field this
season and the second consecutive year the Mariners have led the
majors in attendance.