Hot A's cap three-game sweep of champs


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Mark Ellis wishes all was going right for
him at the plate -- it just isn't and he can't explain why.

''My swing feels terrible,'' he said. ''But I'm not

Those struggles didn't show Sunday, when Ellis had a career-high
four hits as the Oakland Athletics defeated the Anaheim Angels 7-6
to complete a three-game sweep of the World Series champions.

Three of those were bloop hits.

''I felt very fortunate,'' Ellis said with a laugh. ''Troy Glaus
took a couple hits away from me the last couple days, so maybe
that's why I got those hits tonight.''

Oakland's 5-1 start is its best since winning five in a row to
start the 1992 season.

Chris Singleton's run-scoring single off heralded rookie Francisco
Rodriguez gave Oakland a 6-5 lead in the seventh inning, and Ellis'
sacrifice fly provided an insurance run. He finished with two
doubles, two RBI and a run scored, also making several spectacular
plays at second base.

''The story today is Mark Ellis,'' A's manager Ken Macha said.

In the eighth, Ellis, beginning his first full major league
season, ran behind second base and backhanded a groundball by David
Eckstein and threw it across his body to first for the out.

''They're plays I work on every day,'' Ellis said. ''I love
playing defense.''

Rodriguez (0-1) entered with a 5-4 lead in the seventh, but
things fell apart fast.

He threw eight balls in nine pitches to walk the first two
batters before getting Terrence Long to line out. Then Rodriguez
threw a wild pitch, sending Jermaine Dye to third and Erubiel
Durazo to second.

Dye scored the tying run on another wild pitch as Rodriguez
looked nothing like the remarkable pitcher he was in the playoffs
last year. Durazo scored the go-ahead run on a single by Singleton,
and Ellis' sacrifice fly scored Ramon Hernandez.

Last October, the 21-year-old Rodriguez tied a major league
record with five postseason victories, set a relief record with 28
postseason strikeouts, posted a 1.93 ERA and became the youngest
pitcher to win a World Series game. This time, he gave up three
runs and one hit in one inning.

''Everything was good. I thought I had good stuff. That ball
went down the middle, then at the last minute, boom, it went
straight down,'' Rodriguez said of the wild pitch that allowed the
tying run to score.

''It dropped down instead of going away. It's tough to catch
that kind of ball. That's a tough pitch. I couldn't find my rhythm
or my release point.''

Brad Fullmer drove in three runs for Anaheim, including a run-scoring
groundout in the seventh that made it 5-4.

Chad Bradford (1-0) got one out in the seventh and pitched a
1-2-3 eighth. Keith Foulke worked the ninth for his second save,
allowing a solo home run by Tim Salmon.

Neither starting pitcher was particularly effective -- the A's
Tim Hudson and the Angels' John Lackey both left after five innings
with the game tied at 4.

Durazo doubled and scored in Oakland's three-run fourth inning
that tied the game. Durazo, acquired from Arizona in a four-team
trade in December, finished his first week with 11 RBI, tied for
the second-most in the majors.

''You should be able to play at a high enough level to absorb
some bad breaks,'' Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said. ''We just
opened the door a little bit too much for them, and a good team
will take advantage.''

A nice throw home by Salmon in right field kept Singleton from
scoring in the fourth.

Hudson, who combined on the A's first opening-day shutout in 45
years in a 5-0 victory over Seattle, was not nearly as sharp in his
second outing. He gave up four runs, six hits and tied a career
high with six walks in five innings.

''My ball was sinking a lot more and it had a lot more life in
it,'' Hudson said. ''That made it hard to get ahead in the count.
As sharp as I was with my two-seamer last outing, tonight was a
total 180.''

Micah Bowie took over and pitched a perfect sixth but gave up a
single to Salmon and a double to Garret Anderson to start the

Hudson walked two batters in the first inning and also gave up
consecutive singles as the Angels scored two quick runs off the

Lackey also was shaky early, allowing three singles and a run in
a 35-minute first inning. Lackey, coming off a defeat against Texas in his
first opening-day start, allowed four runs on nine hits in five

Game notes
Both teams have Monday off and play their first 19 games
against the American League West. ... The A's drew 136,765 fans for their
six-game homestand, including 30,140 Sunday. ... Salmon had three
hits, a walk and three runs scored. ... The A's won without hitting
a home run. Last season, they didn't win a game without a homer
until May 16.