Series: Game 2 of 3

Oakland leads 2-0 (as of 4/6)

Game 1: Monday, April 5
Game 2: Tuesday, April 6
Game 3: Wednesday, April 7

Rangers 1

(0-2, 0-2 away)

Athletics 3

(2-0, 2-0 home)

    10:05 PM ET, April 6, 2004 Coliseum, Oakland, California 

    123456789 R H E
    TEX 000010000 1 5 1
    OAK 00000300 - 3 7 0

    W: M. Mulder (1-0)

    L: C. Park (0-1)

    S: A. Rhodes (2)

    Oakland stars hope for healthy 2004

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Any lingering questions surrounding the health of two Oakland stars might have been answered in just more than two hours.

    Jermaine Dye hit a towering two-run homer and Mark Mulder looked like his old self on the mound in leading the Athletics to a 3-1 victory over the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night.

    Both players are determined to have strong seasons after fighting injuries in 2003.

    "That was the first time I felt completely normal since July," a relieved Mulder said. "It's good to go out and just make your pitches and not have anything bothering you."

    There's no longer anything bothering A's rookie Bobby Crosby, either.

    He got his first major league hit in the fifth inning, when he lined a single to left past the outstretched glove of shortstop Michael Young.

    Crosby, 0-for-16 dating to September, punched his right fist into his left hand in a subtle display of satisfaction. The ball was retrieved by third-base coach Ron Washington for Crosby to take home later.

    "I was excited. But it's a base hit -- nothing to do anything crazy about," he said. "It's a single. Hopefully there are many more to come."

    Oakland beat the Rangers for the ninth straight time to match its longest winning streak against Texas, which the A's also accomplished from July 28, 2002, to April 9, 2003.

    Eric Young had two hits for the Rangers, but they got only one hit from their top five batters. New A's closer Arthur Rhodes pitched a perfect ninth for his second consecutive save, finishing a game that took just 2 hours, 5 minutes.

    "One run and five hits in nine innings makes the game go pretty quickly," Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock said.

    Mulder, who missed the final seven weeks of the 2003 season with a stress fracture in his right leg, got through the first inning in two minutes and the second in five. He retired the side in the seventh on three groundouts, throwing just six pitches. He pitched seven strong innings, allowing one run and five hits while striking out four.

    Mulder, 26, had been one of the brightest spots in Oakland's awesome rotation before getting hurt last season, and he was even considered a contender for the AL Cy Young award. He tied with Roy Halladay and Bartolo Colon for the major league lead with nine complete games despite making only 26 starts. He went 15-9 with a 3.13 ERA.

    He threw 92 pitches, 61 for strikes, Tuesday.

    "He was well on his way to having a great year last year," manager Ken Macha said. "For him to have the ability to throw a complete game right around 100 pitches, that saves the bullpen. He's like a stopper, a bullpen saver, a whole lot of stuff. He means a lot of things."

    So does Dye.

    He hit .172 with four homers and 20 RBI last season while battling two injuries, but had a team-leading 20 RBI this spring -- and the A's have high hopes for him this year.

    Texas starter Chan Ho Park, another player coming back from injury, looked good through five innings -- striking out six -- then gave up a one-out triple in the sixth to Bobby Kielty, who scored on Eric Chavez's RBI single. Dye then connected on a 2-0 pitch, a high fastball.

    All four of Dye's hits against Park have been homers.

    "I had the best command I've had in the last couple years," Park said. "I tried everything during spring training, but tonight I made good pitches, but we lost. This is the first step. I need to focus on my pitching in the next game. Every time I pitch, I feel better and better and I want to pitch more. ... I don't remember when I did this well. It physically helps to be healthy. Then you don't have to worry about pitching."

    Park went 0-1 with a 6.45 ERA in five exhibition starts this spring and left his outing Thursday night against the Giants in San Francisco with tightness in his right hip. He didn't seem bothered in this start, finishing with eight strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings and allowing three runs on seven hits.

    "Without a doubt, he was the reason we stayed in this game," manager Buck Showalter said. "He never panicked. You could see a certain calmness when he pitched. Everyone in this clubhouse that's been through adversity is pulling for Chan Ho. Everything is in his control."

    Texas' Ramon Nivar, recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma on Saturday, singled and drove in the Rangers' only run on a fielder's choice in the fifth.

    Game notes

    New A's catcher Damian Miller threw out runners trying to steal in the second and third innings. ... Texas 2B Alfonso Soriano had a fielding error for the second straight game. ... Park didn't face the A's in 2003. He is 1-5 in eight career starts against Oakland. He went 0-3 vs. the A's in 2002. ... The Rangers last beat the A's June 25 in Oakland. The A's won the 2003 season series 15-4. ... The A's drew only 13,217 after 45,122 showed up Monday for Opening Day.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press