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Duchscherer pitches 3 hitless relief innings

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- When the Oakland Athletics lost All-Star
third baseman Eric Chavez to a broken hand, it looked as if they
could be heading into a rough stretch.

But with contributions coming from many players, the A's have
more than survived without their best player, beating the Toronto
Blue Jays 8-3 Sunday for their fourth win in five games.

"When all the pieces are working and in fine, running condition
it's easy," manager Ken Macha said. "When it's not going well,
people have to step up and fill the void."

Plenty of players contributed to the latest win, from Eric
Byrnes' leadoff homer to a three-run double by Scott Hatteberg to
three hitless innings of relief from Justin Duchscherer.

"Chavy is our team leader and obviously our best player,"
Byrnes said. "But there are 24, now 25, other guys going out there
and playing hard to win as a group. I like that about this team.
We're scratching for runs."

The A's matched a season best at seven games over .500 and moved
into second place in the AL West, 1{ games behind Anaheim -- their
smallest deficit since April 26.

The four-run first proved to be enough for Mark Redman (4-3),
who allowed three runs in five innings before turning it over to
the bullpen. Duchscherer preserved the one-run lead until
Hatteberg's big hit broke open the game in the seventh.

"A tremendous job by Duchscherer again," Macha said. "There
was no save today, but he certainly should be given one. He was
fantastic."

Toronto's Jason Kershner (0-1) got more time to prepare for his
second big league start than his first on Tuesday, when he was told
just two hours before the game that he would fill in for injured Cy
Young Award winner Roy Halladay.

But the extra time didn't help as he allowed four first-inning
runs to an A's team that had scored just 10 in the four games since
All-Star third baseman Eric Chavez broke his hand.

Byrnes homered on the second pitch, and then the A's showed they
could even score without the longball for the first time since
Thursday.

Bobby Crosby, who had three hits in his first game in the
two-hole, followed with a double and scored on Jermaine Dye's
one-out single.

After a two-out walk to Eric Karros, the A's pulled off a rare
double steal to set up Damian Miller's two-run single. Oakland
entered the game second-to-last in the AL with 18 stolen bases.

"It's been tough to score runs lately," Dye said. "That
became a big play for us. It got us a couple of runs."

Kershner lasted only two more innings before manager Carlos
Tosca turned a 4-0 deficit to his bullpen.

"I would just love to erase that first inning," Kershner said.
"When I came back out in the second I was completely calmed
down."

After snapping a major league record-tying stretch of seven
straight no-decisions from their starting pitchers with Tim
Hudson's shutout Saturday, the A's got another win from their
heralded staff.

Even though Redman struggled to find umpire Lance Barksdale's
strike zone in a three-run fifth inning, Oakland's starters
improved to 3-0 with a 1.97 ERA over the last 10 games.

Redman uncharacteristically walked four batters in the fifth --
more than he had issued in all but one of his first 10 starts.

Two walks around a double by Josh Phelps loaded the bases and a
free pass to Frank Menechino scored Toronto's first run. The Blue
Jays added runs on Eric Hinske's sacrifice fly to the warning track
in center and Reed Johnson's RBI groundout.

"He took advantage of our aggressive nature in the first couple
of innings," Toronto's Gregg Zaun said. "You have to watch a
pitcher like that and make sure he doesn't do that to you. We
started to be a little bit more patient at the plate after the
third inning. We nibbled at him and took advantage of his
mistakes."

The A's loaded the bases in the seventh against Vinnie Chulk
before Hatteberg's double off Kerry Ligtenberg made it 7-3.

Game notes
Oakland has won 10 of 11 at home. ... Blue Jays C Bobby
Estalella had a rough sixth inning. He was hit by a pitch to lead
off the frame and then was called for interference when Crosby's
relay to first on a double-play grounder hit his raised hand as he
slid into the base. ... Byrnes has three career leadoff home runs.
... The Blue Jays dropped to 2-25 when they score three or fewer
runs.