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Colon dominates A's lineup

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Bartolo Colon cruised along, refusing to
show any emotion until the final out. Then, he quickly found
catcher Jose Molina and gave him a huge hug.

The Angels considered themselves a playoff team all along, even
while they spent the summer playing catch up, and now -- thanks to
Colon's big night and plenty of productive bats -- they're one win
away.

Colon dominated in seven sharp innings while pitching on three
days' rest for the third time in his career, and No. 9 hitter
Alfredo Amezaga had a grand slam that led Anaheim over the Oakland
Athletics 10-0 on Friday night.

Pinch-hitter Andres Galarraga led off the ninth with his 399th
homer, his first this season. The Angels got hits from nine players
to win for the sixth time in seven games and take a one-game AL
West lead over the A's with two to play.

"It means a lot that we're able to get the first one out of the
way, but nothing's been won," Colon said. "I have been through it
before. Nobody's celebrating. It's not over yet."

Now, Oakland's playoff hopes are in the hands of Barry Zito on
Saturday. The A's have reached the postseason the past four years,
losing in the first round each time.

If the A's win Saturday, everything will come down to the series
finale Sunday, the last day of the regular season, a matchup of
Oakland's Tim Hudson and Anaheim's Jarrod Washburn.

"They got the momentum and we've exhausted all of our
options," Oakland's Mark Kotsay said. "We know what we have to
do."

Colon (18-12), who beat Kenny Rogers at Texas on Monday, won for
the fifth time in six starts, retiring 13 of his first 15 batters.
Colon pitched three-hit ball through seven innings, striking out
six and walking none. Brendan Donnelly and Ramon Ortiz completed
the four-hitter, the Angels' 11th shutout.

"This has been an incredible grind," Angels manager Mike
Scioscia said. "These guys have been sensational keeping their
energy where it needs to be, and their focus."

Mark Mulder (17-8) has pitched so poorly the A's briefly
considered skipping his turn and using September callup Joe Blanton
instead Friday. But they decided to turn to their "Big Three"
pitchers of Mulder, Zito and Hudson for the final weekend -- because
"they have absolutely been the people who have put this
organization on the map," manager Ken Macha said.

But after the Angels' four-run second, Mulder was done and
Blanton relieved.

The two innings matched Mulder's career low, set Aug. 26, 2000,
against New York, when he allowed six runs and 10 hits.

"Not a very pleasant evening," Macha said. "After we got
behind four runs, we felt we weren't in position to give up any
more, and that's why we went to the bullpen. ... He sat on the
bench for three innings and rooted for the team. We've had tough
losses all season but we've rebounded from them before."

On Aug. 24 this year, Mulder became the major leagues' first
17-game winner. Since then, he is 0-4 with a 7.27 ERA in seven
starts. The left-hander, the AL starter in the All-Star game, has
lost velocity on his fastball and hasn't made it past four innings
in his last three starts.

He was surprised to be taken out.

"I don't have that kind of ego where I don't understand," he
said. "I didn't struggle out there. It's tough. I love these kind
of situations. It's been a struggle. Hopefully Zito and Huddy will
get the wins we need."

Blanton, a first-round draft pick in 2002 who went 11-8 this
year for Triple-A Sacramento, got into trouble in the sixth, when
the Angels batted around.

Amezaga's grand slam highlighted the inning. He sent a 3-1 pitch
over the wall in right-center for his second homer of the year and
fourth of his career -- the other this year also was a slam, on Aug.
31 at Boston. Amezaga is playing because second baseman Adam
Kennedy has torn ligaments in his right knee.

"This is my first one in a big game like that," Amezaga said.
"It's very important to get the first game of the three games. It
gives us more confidence."

Macha, who's never been ejected in two years as a manager,
sprinted out of the dugout to argue twice in the first two innings,
then again in the seventh. Eric Chavez was called out at second
trying to push a single to a double in the first inning, but Macha
didn't think second baseman Amezaga got the tag on in time even
though Chavez slid past the bag.

Then in the second, with Anderson on third, David Eckstein
grounded to second and Marco Scutaro threw home to try to save a
run. Plate umpire Brian Runge immediately called Anderson safe,
though Macha thought catcher Adam Melhuse got the tag in time.

Game notes
A's C Damian Miller missed his third straight game with a
bruised left thumb, while DH Erubiel Durazo sat out his second
straight game with a sore wrist. ... Mulder was done after 32
pitches. ... Eckstein snapped an 0-for-15 stretch with a leadoff
double in the fourth. ... In his last seven outings, Mulder allowed
16 doubles, one triple and seven homers. ... The A's drew a rare
sellout crowd of 47,081. ... A's reliever Chris Hammond left after
two-thirds of an inning with a strained groin.