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Blanton wins third straight start

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Joe Blanton had almost every Oakland
pitcher offer him words of encouragement during his stretch of 10
winless outings to start the year.

Athletics management even considered sending the rookie down to
work things out. A few tiny fixes and he has emerged as the A's top
pitcher of late.

Blanton won his third straight start, Bobby Kielty hit a two-run
homer and Bobby Crosby also connected to lead the A's to a 4-3
victory over the San Francisco Giants on Friday night.

"Every time I'm going out there I feel more comfortable,"
Blanton said. "When you get on a good roll, you get a little
confidence and carry it through."

Jason Kendall had three hits and Eric Chavez singled twice and
scored a run as Oakland took the opener in the second interleague
series between the teams this season. With the way the clubs have
struggled so far, many fans are debating who will finish with a
worse record.

San Francisco's Pedro Feliz hit a three-run homer in the
seventh, his 10th of the season.

Blanton (4-6), who is finally living up to expectations after
having a rough time early, retired the first 10 Giants before Omar
Vizquel lined a single to right in the fourth. Vizquel was caught
stealing moments later and J.T. Snow fouled out to third, so
Blanton still faced the minimum through four.

Blanton allowed three unearned runs in eight innings, struck out
three, and didn't walk a batter for the second time this season.
The right-hander has gone seven or more innings in his last three
outings and won for the fourth time in his last five starts after
starting the year 0-5.

He didn't feel great about his stuff coming out of his pregame
bullpen session, but was efficient all game -- finishing with just
85 pitches and just the kind of performance everybody hoped for
from him when the year began.

"What we expected was a control guy with four pitches who could
execute a game plan, and that's what he's doing," A's manager Ken
Macha said. "I'd say that the night was just about Joe Blanton."

The A's gave him some run support early with Crosby's
first-inning solo homer, the third of the season for the reigning
AL Rookie of the Year who missed nearly two months with two
fractured ribs.

Justin Duchscherer allowed a hit and a walk in the ninth before
striking out Feliz on a 3-2 count with runners on the corners for
his fourth save in six chances. Duchscherer threw three straight
balls, missing with two curveballs before using that same pitch to
end it.

"I have a lot of confidence in that pitch," Duchscherer said.
"If I mess up with it two times there's a good chance the next
time I throw it that it will be good. That's how I feel about it."

Oakland got a hit or an RBI from all but one of its starters to
win for the sixth time in seven games.

Kielty hit his fifth homer in the fourth for the A's, who
dropped two of three to the Giants from May 20-22 at SBC Park.

Giants manager Felipe Alou was impressed with Blanton, knocked
out after 4 2/3 innings in the first game of that series in San
Francisco. His ERA is 2.02 over his last five games.

"I can't believe it's the same kid we saw the other time,"
Alou said.

San Francisco made a late switch of starting pitchers, going
with 42-year-old lefty Jeff Fassero (1-5) and moving right-hander
Jesse Foppert into the bullpen for long relief.

Foppert didn't find out about the change until arriving at the
stadium.

Fassero, praised by manager Felipe Alou for his ability to fill
various roles, made his fifth start and first since June 8 against
Kansas City, lasting five innings. He allowed four runs and eight
hits, struck out two and didn't walk a batter. Foppert relieved
him.

"Basically, I got beat on my fourth pitch today, my
curveball," Fassero said of the pitch hit by Kielty. "It wasn't a
wise choice."

Game notes
Chavez committed an error in the seventh, his 11th this
year. He had only 13 last season on the way to his fourth straight
Gold Glove award. ... Giants 2B Ray Durham was held out of the
lineup with a lower back strain. ... While clearly disappointed
about not starting, Foppert said he didn't need an explanation for
the move. "Just walking too many guys, that's pretty much it," he
said. "I don't think anyone likes to get bumped from what they're
scheduled to do. I'm not going to get down about it." Alou said
Foppert will work in long relief for the time being, and the Giants
kept him in the big leagues so they could closely monitor his
progress. "Later on down the road it is our project to bring him
back in the rotation," Alou said. ... Kendall extended his hitting
streak to eight games, while San Francisco's Jason Ellison had his
seven-game hitting streak snapped. ... The game drew 40,485.