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A's overcome 5-run deficit to trip Rangers

9/29/2002

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- With the Oakland Athletics headed into
their last regular-season game with a chance at earning home-field
advantage through the AL playoffs, Art Howe is giving it his best
shot.

"We're going to play our regulars to start the game Sunday and
then go from there,'' the Oakland manager said after his A's
rallied from a five-run deficit to beat the Texas Rangers 10-8
Saturday night.

"You want to have some momentum going into the playoffs,'' he
said.

Terrance Long and Eric Byrnes, one of four rookies in the
starting lineup Saturday, had consecutive RBI singles in the
seventh inning when the A's scored four times to erase a 7-6
deficit. Oakland has won 11 of its last 15.

Miguel Tejada homered twice for the A's, who still remained a
half-game behind the New York Yankees in the competition for
home-field advantage through the AL playoffs.

Oakland (102-59) must win Sunday to have a chance to gain
home-field advantage over New York (102-58), which holds the
tiebreaker because it won the season series 5-4. If the A's beat
Texas on Sunday and the Yankees lose at Baltimore, New York would
have to play at home Monday against Tampa Bay, making up Thursday's
rainout.

Texas led 7-2 in the third and was ahead 7-6 in the seventh when
Danny Kolb (3-6) hit Jermaine Dye with a pitch and walked Olmedo
Saenz, the only two batters he faced.

Long hit a pinch-single off Juan Alvarez that tied the score,
and Byrnes broke the tie.

Rookie Jason Grabowski added an RBI triple and Cody McKay, who
had his first two major league hits in his previous two at-bats,
hit a sacrifice fly for a 10-7 lead.

Kevin Mench and Hank Blalock both had two-runs singles to give
Texas a 7-2 lead after two innings. The A's then scored eight
unanswered runs before Todd Greene's 10th homer off Chad Bradford
in the seventh.

Ted Lilly (5-7) pitched two shutout innings, and Jim Mecir got
three outs for his first save.

Lilly was the scheduled starter, but Howe decided instead to use
the left-hander out of the bullpen to prepare for the playoffs.
Lilly, Oakland's third pitcher, struck out two while pitching the
fifth and sixth innings.

"I liked it and enjoyed it,'' Lilly said. "It's nice to get an
outing in the bullpen before the playoffs, so that helps.''

Starter Aaron Harang lasted just 1 1/3 innings, allowing seven
runs, three hits and four walks. He threw just 29 of 57 pitches for
strikes in his first start since Aug. 25.

Tejada's homer in the first gave Oakland a 1-0 lead. But the
Rangers had a four-run first capped by Mench's single, one of only
two hits in the inning as Harang walked two and hit Alex Rodriguez
in the back with a pitch.

Blalock, who drew a bases-loaded walk in the first, put the
Rangers ahead 7-2 with his two-run single in the second.

In the third, Tejada hit a two-run homer to make it 7-4. The A's
scored two unearned runs in the sixth.

Tejada, who didn't start Friday night, played only the first
half of Saturday's game. He is hitting .308 with 34 homers and 130
RBIs.

Rodriguez was 0-for-2 before leaving after seven innings when
his back stiffened. Since hitting his 57th homer Wednesday night,
A-Rod is 0-for-9 with four walks.

"I don't really look at A-Rod, I just go out there and play my
game. My competition is not for the MVP, my competition is to win
the game,'' Tejada said. "I'm going to leave that decision up to
the reporters.''

All three Oakland homers came off rookie Ben Kozlowski, in his
second start after spending most of the season in the minor
leagues. He got only as high as Double-A before getting called up
after Tulsa finished the Texas League playoffs two weeks ago.

"For a guy who only pitched a little in Double-A, Ben did a
nice job,'' Rangers manager Jerry Narron said. "He will have a
good idea what he has to work on this fall and this winter. It's a
tremendous learning experience for a guy that is a big part of our
future.''

Kozlowski allowed four runs on five hits with three strikeouts
and three walks.

Game notes
Narron said he would see how Rodriguez feels Sunday before
deciding if he will play the season finale. ... Tejada has played
in 431 straight games, the longest active streak in the major
leagues. He had missed just nine innings this season before the
Texas series. ... Oakland manager Art Howe, again resting some key
players before next week's playoff series against Minnesota,
started four rookies. 2B Jose Flores and C McKay made their first
career starts. ... Texas has lost 12 of 15.