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Athletics rout Rangers to snap losing streak

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- R.A. Dickey found out in a hurry back in
college that Mark Kotsay is a capable hitter.

The Texas starter received another reminder Saturday.

Kotsay homered twice, and the Oakland Athletics stopped a
three-game losing streak with a 6-2 victory over the Rangers.

Kotsay connected for a two-run homer in the third and a solo
shot in the fifth, sending both over the right-field wall and
giving him seven home runs this season. It was his second career
multihomer game and first since Sept. 22, 2002, against Los Angeles
while with San Diego.

"Even in college he beat me up -- when he was at Fullerton and I
was at Tennessee," said Dickey, teammates with Kotsay on the 1996
Olympic team. "He sees the ball well off me. He's comfortable in
the box against me. There's no hiding that. I have to find a way to
make him uncomfortable."

Eric Chavez also homered for Oakland, a two-run shot in the
seventh. He has two home runs since returning July 9 after missing
more than a month with a broken right hand.

Kirk Saarloos (2-1) pitched five strong innings for the A's, who
pulled within 3½ games of the first-place Rangers in the AL West.
Justin Duchscherer, Jim Mecir and Octavio Dotel combined to pitch
four scoreless innings of relief.

In the ninth, third base umpire Bruce Dreckman approached the
mound and examined Dotel's glove, removing a reflective sticker.
Moments later, Texas third base coach Steve Smith started hollering
at A's manager Ken Macha and the Oakland dugout. Many of the
Rangers then came out of their dugout.

Texas manager Buck Showalter hustled onto the field and calmed
Smith down.

Smith said afterward he saw something shining on Dotel's glove
and asked Dreckman to look into it.

Smith thought Macha was angry with him.

"I guess he wasn't, so I walked back," Smith said." It's
over. That's it. We don't have a history."

Macha declined comment, as did the umpires.

Dotel laughed about the silliness of it all.

"He might have been trying to get me out of the game, but it
doesn't matter," Dotel said, noting the sticker had been on his
glove for 10 days. "It made me more excited."

Kotsay has shown drastic improvement at the plate recently.

He went 3-for-5 and is batting .370 in July (30-for-81). He hit
.256 in April, .308 in May and .340 in June.

When general manager Billy Beane traded for Kotsay in November,
Beane said the outfielder would be an upgrade both offensively and
defensively, and that has held true.

"I'm not a power guy," he said. "I'm just up there trying to
go gap to gap. Obviously, I feel like I'm playing good baseball.
It's fun -- a fun environment. This is the first time after the
All-Star break I've been on a team that's in it."

Mark Teixeira answered Kotsay's first homer with his 23rd home
run of the year in the fourth, hitting a 2-2 pitch from Saarloos
just inside the foul pole in right for a solo shot to pull Texas to
2-1.

The A's made it 3-1 in the fourth on Eric Byrnes' sacrifice fly
after loading the bases against Dickey (5-7).

Alfonso Soriano added a fifth-inning sacrifice fly for the
Rangers, who struggled to take advantage of their chances a day
after they pounded 12 hits and beat Mark Mulder.

Saarloos allowed two runs, three hits and five walks in his
fourth start of the season. He is making a name for himself with
this club, though he likely will return to Triple-A Sacramento once
ace Tim Hudson returns from a strained left stomach muscle.

"I'm not really trying to make a case," Saarloos said. "What
I've always said is you have to make outs. It's not in my hands.
It's out of my control. If they want to keep me around, awesome."

He loaded the bases with three walks in the first, but got
Laynce Nix to strike out to escape the inning unscathed. Then in
the second, Saarloos allowed Gary Matthews to reach third on a
sacrifice bunt following his leadoff double. But the right-hander
walked David Dellucci and then got him to ground into an
inning-ending double play.

After Kotsay's leadoff single in the first, Dickey retired the
next seven A's batters before Adam Melhuse's double in the third.
Dickey, 0-4 in five career outings against Oakland, gave up four
runs and eight hits in 5 1-3 innings.

Game notes
Injured A's ace Tim Hudson threw 35 pitches in a bullpen
session, all fastballs. He is to pitch in a simulated game Monday,
throw another bullpen session Wednesday and probably make a rehab
start for Triple-A Sacramento on July 31. ... Kotsay's first six
homers this year gave the A's the lead. ... Byrnes' 17 career RBI
against Texas are his most against any opponent. ... The Rangers
threw out Jermaine Dye at the plate on Scott Hatteberg's double to
center in the fifth, an impressive 8-6-2 relay to save a run.