<
>

Athletics win their fourth straight

SEATTLE (AP) -- Dan Johnson's extra work paid off.

Johnson hit his first career homer and Rich Harden pitched five
strong innings to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 4-2 victory over
the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday night.

Known for his power numbers in the minors, Johnson was
hitting .273 with five doubles and just four RBI in 21 games since
being called up from Triple-A Sacramento on May 27. In his first
at-bat against Joel Pineiro (2-4) in the third, the 25-year-old
first baseman hit a 1-0 pitch 418 feet into the right-field seats.

"It's one of those things I've always been able to hit home
runs, then I get here and the ball sinks a little more," Johnson
said. "I haven't adjusted to it yet. But tonight I got the head
out on a good pitch to hit and finally got the monkey off my
back."

Oakland manager Ken Macha and hitting coach Dave Hudgens worked
on Johnson's swing before the series opener Monday night.

"[Macha] has asked why I haven't been driving the ball as in
the past," said Johnson, the MVP of the Pacific Coast League last
year. "It has been the biggest learning experience I've ever been
through in baseball. Coming through the ranks I've always had a
period of adjustment.

"The ball moves so much here when these guys let it go, it's
tough to adjust to. I was used to seeing four-seam fastballs every
at-bat. Now it seems they don't exist anymore."

The Athletics won their fourth straight -- matching a season high
-- and eighth in their last 11.

Harden (3-3), who had not pitched since straining his left
oblique muscle May 13, allowed just two hits for his first win
since April 21. He walked one and struck out three.

Justin Duchscherer got the final five outs for his third
straight save.

Pineiro gave up all four runs and eight hits in eight innings to
pick his first decision in seven starts. He walked four and struck
out six.

Richie Sexson doubled off the center-field wall to open the
second inning, moved to third on Raul Ibanez's grounder and scored
on Jose Lopez's sacrifice fly to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead.

"He has outstanding stuff," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove
said of Harden. "I don't know that there is anybody else in our
league that has better stuff than this guy."

The A's took a 2-1 lead in the third, started by Johnson's
homer. Marco Scutaro then walked with one out, moved to second on
Jason Kendall's single and came home on Mark Kotsay's run-scoring
single.

Oakland also scored twice in the fourth. Scott Hatteberg opened
with a single down the right-field line and advanced to third on
Bobby Kielty's double past first baseman Sexson into the
right-field corner, and scored on Johnson's sacrifice fly to left
field. One out later, Scutaro's RBI single to center drove in
Kielty from second to make it 4-1.

Harden got into a two-out jam in the fifth after Reed's single
into shallow right. After Mike Morse walked, Pat Borders sent a
long drive into right-center that Kotsay ran down at the warning
track after a long run to end the inning.

"I don't even know which way he turned his glove on that
thing," Macha said of Kotsay's catch. "But when I heard the dead
silence I knew he caught it."

The Mariners pulled within 4-2 on Adrian Beltre's RBI single in
the eighth but Richie Sexson hit into inning-ending 5-4-3 double
play. He also did the same thing in the sixth.

"Anything is better, a strikeout, flyout, anything is better
other than what I did twice," Sexson said. "That's my job. I
didn't get it done tonight. I hope I get a couple chances tomorrow
and try it again."

Game notes
Mariners rookies, shortstop Morse, center-fielder Reed and
catcher Rene Rivera, along with second-year second baseman Lopez
have combined to hit .324 in June. ... Johnson hit .299 with 29
home runs and 111 RBI for Triple-A Sacramento last season.