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Southpaw wins seventh straight decision

ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- Mark Mulder's latest gem was just what
the Oakland Athletics needed.

Mulder matched his career best by winning his seventh straight
decision, pitching a four-hitter for his major league-leading
fourth complete game, and Jermaine Dye hit a two-run homer to help
the A's beat the Anaheim Angels 2-1 Thursday.

With Oakland's bullpen struggling, manager Ken Macha allowed
Mulder (9-2) to give the staff its seventh complete game, also the
most in the majors. He struck out four and walked three as Oakland
gained a split of the four-game series.

"I didn't really have my best sinker when the game started and
wasn't throwing too many strikes right out of the shoot," said
Mulder, who threw 106 pitches. "But then I started getting in the
groove later in the game and started throwing a lot of them. I was
able to get a lot of ground balls and a lot of quick outs, and was
able to keep my pitch count down. So I wasn't really tired in the
ninth."

Mulder ended the game by retiring Garret Anderson on a groundout
after walking Vladimir Guerrero on a 3-2 pitch.

"I didn't want to throw anything over the plate to Guerrero
because I just didn't want him to hit a homer," Mulder said.
"Obviously, Garret's a great hitter and he's done decent against
me. But it was one of those situations where, left-on-lefty, I'll
take my chances."

After the game, Oakland bolstered its bullpen by acquiring
closer Octavio Dotel from Houston in a three-way trade.

The A's sent two minor leaguers, third baseman Mark Teahen and
starting pitcher Mike Wood, to the Kansas City Royals, who sent
outfielder Carlos Beltran to the Astros for minor league catcher
John Buck.

"Octavio Dotel is one of the most talented relievers in the
game," A's general manager Billy Beane said. "It obviously fills
a very big need."

Mulder, unbeaten in 10 starts since an April 28 loss at Yankee
Stadium, has allowed no more than two earned runs in seven of his
last eight starts, lowering his ERA to 2.76. His 64 wins since the
start of the 2001 season are the most in the majors, and he is
51-10 with a 2.00 ERA when he pitches at least seven innings.

"He's one of the top pitchers in baseball," Dye said. "He has
a great split-finger fastball that gets a lot of ground balls. He
makes hitters swing at his pitch. And when you're throwing strikes
and you're around the zone, hitters tend to go up there ready to
hit and they get themselves out. He relies on that, and that's why
he's able to keep his pitch count down and get into the ninth
inning."

Ramon Ortiz, making his second impressive start following a
seven-week demotion to the bullpen, allowed one run and three hits
in 5 1-3 innings and struck out six. He pitched six scoreless
innings at Houston last Saturday.

Ortiz walked only one batter, Mark McLemore leading off the
sixth. It proved costly when Dye drove Scot Shields' second pitch
over the fence in left-center for a 2-1 lead. Manager Mike Scioscia
thought Ortiz had had enough after 91 pitches.

"Ramon pitched a great game, and I blew it for him," a
disconsolate Shields said. "I made a bad pitch and Dye made me pay
for it. I tried to throw it low and away to get a ground-ball
double-play, but it ended up middle-in.

"It was a bad situation to give up a home run. He's their home
run guy. He's hit the ball hard against me, but it's just been
right at guys. This time, there weren't any guys he could hit it
at."

The home run was Dye's 14th this season, his second in 16 games
-- and only the second allowed by Shields (5-1) in 46 2-3 innings.

"I don't blame Scioscia for the move he made because I've
struggled against him in the past," Dye said. "He's a
sinkerballer, and it was a chance to get a double play and get out
of the inning. But I just happened to get a ball that I could
handle and hit it out of the park."

David Eckstein led off the Angels' first inning with an
opposite-field double down the right-field line and scored on
Anderson's sacrifice fly.

Ortiz didn't give up his first hit until the fourth, when Dye
hit a two-out popup that second baseman Alfredo Amezaga lost in the
sun near the mound and dropped for a single. Amezaga started at
second for the fourth time this season.

Game notes
Oakland was 3-7 on a trip that followed an 11-1 homestand.
... The Athletics outscored opponents 48-7 in Mulder's previous
four victories. ... Angels 1B Darin Erstad did not play because of
residual swelling in the bottom knuckle on the middle finger of his
right hand. He dislocated it on a checked swing Wednesday night,
but it popped back into place on its own. ... Dye's first hit ended
an 0-for-12 drought.