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Harden: Eight innings, four hits

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- With plenty of groundballs and just as
much poise, Rich Harden cruised through the longest start of his
career in one of Oakland's shortest games of the season.

Harden pitched eight innings of four-hit ball and Eric Chavez
homered in his first home game back from an injury, leading the
Athletics to a 4-2 victory over the Chicago White Sox on Thursday
night.

After going winless in his final five starts before the All-Star
break, Harden (4-5) was in top form. He ripped through Chicago's
lineup, retiring his first 13 hitters before Jose Valentin's
one-out single to right in the fifth.

He allowed another single in the sixth, but thanks to two double
plays, Harden faced the minimum 18 batters through six innings.

While manager Ken Macha praised Harden's mental toughness after
giving up Magglio Ordonez's two-run homer in the seventh, Harden
credited the win to pure pitching.

"I just kept my fastball down, and that helped me get a lot of
early outs," Harden said. "It's natural for a hard thrower. I can
go out there and get a lot of groundball outs if I'm concentrating
on what I need to be doing."

Harden finished strong, retiring three straight in the eighth
inning with his fastball still reaching 95 mph.

"He pitched extremely well, but he's had a couple of games
where he's had something happen, and he loses concentration,"
Macha said. "I think it's a big hurdle for him."

Octavio Dotel pitched the ninth for his third save in five
chances since arriving in a trade with Houston last month. The game
finished in 2:02, with Harden calling it reminiscent of ace Mark
Mulder's speedy starts.

Rookie Bobby Crosby had an RBI double for the A's, who snapped
Chicago's four-game winning streak with just their second victory
in seven games. Oakland has won 21 of 24 at home.

Ordonez hit his ninth homer -- his first in 83 at-bats -- for the
White Sox, who opened a four-game series with a loss, but stayed in
first place in the AL Central thanks to Minnesota's loss to Kansas
City. Chicago has lost 14 of its last 15 in Oakland, and nobody
knows why.

"Every time we play here, we can never win," White Sox manager
Ozzie Guillen said. "We can't ever get enough runs. Every time we
face the A's staff, we struggle for runs. We never swing our bats
well here."

Jon Garland (7-6) allowed six hits and five walks in seven
innings, losing for the third time in five starts. He has allowed
just five runs in his last 21 innings, however.

The A's got three runs with just one hit in the fourth. Garland
walked Scott Hatteberg and Erubiel Durazo before Crosby's double.
Two batters later, Timo Perez made a sprinting catch on Mark
Kotsay's fly -- but then threw to first, where no one was covering,
allowing Crosby to score when the ball rolled into Chicago's
dugout.

"I thought the ump was going against me," Garland said. "I
said something about it, but what good will that do?"

Chavez added his 14th homer of the season in the fifth. He
missed 33 games with a broken right hand before returning last
weekend in Cleveland. He has hit safely in all four games since
coming back, going 7-for-14.

Game notes
Ordonez's homer was his 442nd extra-base hit with Chicago,
tying him with Carlton Fisk for sixth place on the team's career
list. ... Garland is 1-5 this season when allowing a homer, and 6-1
when his opponents don't homer. ... The A's signed four draft
choices, including Texas right-hander Huston Street, the 2002
Outstanding Player at the College World Series. ... RHP Tim Hudson
played catch Thursday, hoping for a speedy return from his sore
oblique muscle. The A's haven't set a timetable for Hudson, who was
selected for the All-Star game but unable to pitch.