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Toronto gets eight win in last 11

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- After facing Rich Harden's hard stuff,
Eric Hinske had to adjust when submariner Chad Bradford came in for
Oakland.

Hinske fouled off tough pitch after tough pitch before finally
getting a mistake and hitting a tiebreaking homer for Toronto in
the eighth inning. He added a two-run double in the ninth to help
the Blue Jays beat the Athletics 6-1 Friday night.

Hinske fouled off five pitches from Bradford (3-2), including
three straight, before hitting his fifth home run of the season.

"With two strikes, I'm just trying to protect," Hinske said.
"He threw some tough backdoor sliders that I fouled off. He left
one up over the plate and I was able to connect."

Toronto scored five runs in the final two frames to snap
Oakland's eight-game home winning streak. The A's won the last five
of those games in extra innings, including the previous three days.

It looked as if Oakland was on its way to another extra-inning
contest before Hinske's homer.

"I didn't make the pitch to put him away," Bradford said. "I
felt if I could have made the perfect pitch, I could get a popup or
a groundball but it didn't work out."

Josh Towers (1-1) won in his return to the big leagues. Demoted
to the minors after getting roughed up in two April starts, Towers
allowed only a leadoff homer to Jermaine Dye in the fourth inning.
The right-hander gave up six hits in seven innings.

Towers, who sat on the bench the first two weeks of the season
before making his two starts, credits the steady work in the minors
for his success.

"I wasn't consistently pitching," he said. "I built up my arm
strength and got my feel back on my pitches. That's the
difference."

Toronto added two more runs in the inning on a throwing error by
third baseman Esteban German and an RBI single by Gregg Zaun.
German was called up earlier this week to replace injured Gold
Glove winner Eric Chavez.

Hinske added a two-run double in the ninth off Chris Hammond.
The 2002 AL Rookie of the Year raised his average to .224 and has
24 RBI this season.

"I went the other way my last at-bat," he said. "That's
usually a sign of good things."

Vinnie Chulk pitched two innings for his first career save.

Once again, a strong performance by an A's starter went for
naught. Harden allowed one run and four hits in seven innings -- the
seventh straight no-decision for an Oakland starter. A's starters
have a 1.84 ERA in that stretch, the longest without a decision
since the team moved to Oakland in 1968.

"He had good stuff," manager Ken Macha said. "I thought he
was perfect around the strike zone for the most part."

A sluggish offense again did in the A's. Oakland loaded the
bases with two outs after Dye's homer in the fourth but came up
empty when Mark Kotsay grounded out to end the threat.

"He got the ball over the plate," Blue Jays manager Carlos
Tosca said, referring to Towers. "We got seven good innings out of
him. You can't ask for anything better."

The A's also left runners in scoring position in the second,
third and fifth innings. Oakland, which stranded 11 runners in all,
came in ranked last in the AL with a .241 average with runners in
scoring position.

"Our bats are going to come along," Harden said. "It's not
something we're really worried about."

The Blue Jays tied it in the fifth when Harden had trouble with
his control. Josh Phelps and Simon Pond drew consecutive one-out
walks before Chris Gomez's grounder up the middle eluded shortstop
Bobby Crosby for an RBI single.

Harden recovered to get Alexis Rios to hit into an inning-ending
double play.

Game notes
Opponents are hitting .205 the first time through the
lineup against Harden. ... Blue Jays slugger Carlos Delgado was
sent back to Toronto before the game for treatment on his injured
right rib cage. ... A's starters went six games without a decision
in July 1996. ... Vernon Wells got his 500th career hit for
Toronto.