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A's have hit 11 homers in past three games

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- A little relaxation helped Bobby
Crosby break out of a slump.

Crosby went 3-for-5 with a home run and Eric Chavez homered
twice to lead the AL West-leading Oakland Athletics over the Tampa
Bay Devil Rays 9-5 Friday night.

Crosby had just three hits in 40 at-bats and stopped an 0-for-14
slide with a second-inning double.

"I remember, after that first month when I struggled, I just
got to the point where I said, I don't care anymore. I'm not going
to stress over it," Crosby said. "Whatever happened, I'm just
going out there and play. I'm not going to beat myself up about
it."

Chavez homered twice for the 11th time in his career, the second
this season, and raised his season total to 23. Adam Melhuse also
homered for Oakland, which has 11 homers in the past three games.

Oakland remained a half-game ahead of Texas and 1½ games ahead
of Anaheim in the tightest of the six division races.

"You look up at the scoreboard and you see everybody's winning,
it's in our minds we better put up a 'W," Oakland manager Ken
Macha said. "We're getting down to the end. Everybody's got to be
extremely intense everyday."

Rich Harden (8-5) won his fifth straight decision, giving up
five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. With their fourth
straight win, the A's moved a season-high 17-games over .500 at
69-52.

Three relievers combined for 3 1-3 scoreless innings, and
Octavio Dotel got the last out for his 13th save in 17 chances.

Carl Crawford, B.J. Upton and Tino Martinez homered for the
Devil Rays, who have lost three straight and nine of 10. Tampa Bay
is 15-29 since moving a season-high two games over .500 on July 3
(40-38).

"It goes to show you how much further we got to go," Tampa Bay
manager Lou Piniella said. "We got a reminder of it. A taste of
it. What are you going to do? Everybody is trying. The manager is
trying. The coaches are trying. The players are trying. The problem
is, there's reasons why these teams are above .500 and we're
below."

Jorge Sosa (3-3) lost his third straight start, allowing six
runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. The Devil Rays have a 7.61
ERA over the past 10 games.

Scott Hatteberg put the A's up 1-0 with an RBI single in the
first, but Crawford tied it in the bottom half with a leadoff
homer.

Melhuse had a solo homer and Mark Kotsay hit a sacrifice fly
that gave Oakland a 3-1 lead in the second. The Athletics left the
bases loaded later in the inning when right fielder Jose Cruz Jr.
ran down Hatteberg's drive near the wall with two outs.

Chavez extended the Oakland advantage to 4-1 with a
fourth-inning solo homer.

The Devil Rays cut the margin in the fifth when Jorge Cantu
scored from third on a double-play grounder by Geoff Blum.

Crosby hit his 16th homer during a four-run sixth that made it
8-2, his first homer in 71 at-bats since July 27.

"He got some pitches to hit, and didn't miss them," Macha
said. "I think before he would be fouling them off."

Erubiel Durazo also drove in two runs with a single and Eric
Byrnes had an RBI single in the sixth.

Upton hit a solo homer and Martinez added a two-run shot in the
bottom of the sixth. Martinez has 318 homers, tying for 88th place
with Roy Sievers.

Chavez homered leading off the eighth.

Game notes
Harden and Sosa both allowed three homers. ... Oakland OF
Jermaine Dye (sore thumb) did not play. ... Tampa Bay OF Joey
Gathright was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make room for 1B-DH
Randall Simon, who was signed Thursday. ... Oakland has won six
straight road games. ... Crawford homered in consecutive games for
first time.