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A's 0-4 on road vs. Tribe

CLEVELAND (AP) -- The Cleveland Indians seem to save their best
for last against the Oakland Athletics.

Pinch-hitter Lou Merloni's two-run single capped a three-run
ninth inning rally off Octavio Dotel as the Indians rallied again
to beat the A's, 5-4 on Friday night.

Merloni ripped the first pitch from Dotel (1-1) down the
left-field line with the bases loaded to score Omar Vizquel and
Travis Hafner before being mobbed by his teammates.

The Indians have beaten the A's four straight times at home this
season -- with each one coming in their final at-bat.

"It's kind of a broken record here," Oakland manager Ken Macha
said. "That's four in a row."

Cleveland had been 0-30 when it trailed going into the ninth
before the comeback, which ended with Merloni surrounded by a
dancing mob of Indians.

"My first walk-off hit ever," Merloni said. "It's kind of a
ritual here to get beat up when you do it. I've got to go ice
down."

Cleveland's latest dramatic win over Oakland gave reliever Bobby
Howry (1-0), who pitched the ninth, his first win since Aug. 21,
2002, for the Chicago White Sox.

Oakland, which has dropped four in a row, took a 4-2 lead into
the ninth and things seemed secure when Dotel struck out
pinch-hitter Coco Crisp.

But Matt Lawton drew a walk, Vizquel followed with a single and
Hafner's RBI double brought the Indians within 4-3.

The A's elected to load the bases by walking Victor Martinez
intentionally and Dotel struck out Casey Blake. But Merloni came up
and pulled Dotel's fastball into the corner.

"I wasn't going to wait," Merloni said. "He throws 95 to 97
mph. The first one was there, so I swung."

Dotel didn't want to risk walking in a run, and realized he
grooved his pitch to Merloni.

"I was trying to get ahead," he said. "I didn't want to throw
a breaking pitch."

The Indians hadn't won when trailing after eight since Aug. 31
last season, and had lost seven of 10 coming in.

"We had been sleepwalking," Merloni said. "This could give us
a burst of energy."

Kirk Saarloos dominated Cleveland for 6 2/3 innings and Eric
Chavez came back strong for the A's.

Before Oakland's bullpen blew it, Saarloos was in line for his
second win after not allowing an earned run on two hits.

Chavez was back in Oakland's lineup after missing more than five
weeks with a broken right hand. The third baseman went 2-for-3 with
an RBI, walked twice and scored a run.

He also made a dazzling defensive play in the eighth inning when
the Indians cut it to 4-2.

With one out, the three-time Gold Glove winner made diving a
stop to take an RBI single away from Martinez, throwing out the
Indians catcher while sitting in the infield dirt.

As he crossed first base, Martinez grabbed his head with both
hands in disbelief.

Maybe the loss caused Chavez to minimize his sensational glove
work.

"I just dove, turned around and threw him out," he said.

Mark Kotsay had two RBI as Oakland's weekend stay started the
same way their previous one ended at the Jake. In May, the Indians
took three in a row from the A's, winning each time in their final
at-bat.

Chavez was back at third and batting third for the first time
since June 1 when he got hit on the right hand by Chicago's Damaso
Marte. Chavez didn't need long to make an impact, hitting an RBI
single in the first to make it 1-0.

The A's added two runs in the second off starter Jake Westbrook
on Kotsay's two-out, two-run single.

Chavez made his presence felt again in the third, doubling and
scoring on Scott Hatteberg's sacrifice fly.

Game notes
Indians OF Mark Little made an impression -- literally --
during the game. Little left imprints from his hands and knees in
the padding of the center-field wall after nearly catching
Hatteberg's drive in the sixth. An inning later, Little got by hit
a pitch. ... The A's went 19-14 while Chavez was out. ... Gerut is
in an 0-for-18 slump. ... Saturday's matchup features two All-Stars
-- C.C. Sabathia (5-4) vs. Mark Mulder (11-2), who has won a
career-high nine straight decisions. ... Vizquel is batting .438
(21-for-48) during a 12-game hitting streak. ... Kotsay is batting
.550 (11-for-20) in his career vs. Cleveland.