OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Barry Zito plans to wait until at least August to start paying much attention to the standings.
Yet everyone around the Oakland Athletics realizes they are making an impressive run. And this team, known for its second-half
success, believes it is just getting going.Marco Scutaro homered and Zito earned the ninth straight win by an Oakland starter, leading the A's over the Seattle Mariners 8-1 on Tuesday night for their season-high fifth consecutive victory."I know we're creeping up, but we just have to focus day to day," said Zito, who helped the A's improve to 36-40 with another step toward the first goal of getting back to .500. "That was really nice to go out and jump on [Jamie] Moyer early."Bobby Kielty hit a pair of two-run doubles for the surging A's, who won their ninth in 10 games and 12th in 15 to improve to 19-8 in their last 27. Eric Chavez had three singles and drove in two runs and is batting .519 with five multihit games during his six-game hitting streak."The way we've been playing, anything can happen," Kielty said. "It was just a matter of time before our offense started cranking into gear."Ichiro Suzuki, who had three hits, homered to center leading off the game, his sixth of the season and third leadoff homer this year. It was his 15th career leadoff home run, but last-place Seattle still lost its third straight and fourth in five games and got a subpar outing from the 42-year-old Moyer.Zito (4-8), who had lost four of his last six decisions, was efficient and rebounded quickly after Suzuki's solo shot to center. Zito is 8-0 against Seattle in the Coliseum and helped extend an impressive run by the A's young rotation. The starters are 9-0 with a 1.33 ERA in the last 10 games, with Zito getting a no-decision last Wednesday in a 5-4, 12-inning loss at Seattle in which he allowed just one run and four hits in 7 1/3 innings.Manager Ken Macha credits pitching coach Curt Young for his tireless work with the staff to hone the pitchers' deliveries and push them to work ahead in counts. In the 24 games before their recent spurt that began May 30, the starters went 1-15 with a 5.88
ERA."Each success leads to the next," Zito said. "I come out after the off day and want to keep the momentum."He gave up one run and six hits in seven innings, struck out two and walked two.Oakland moved past the Mariners into third place in the division last week and was coming off its first sweep of the Giants in a three-game series, highlighted by Sunday's 16-0 win that matched the A's largest shutout victory. They had 24 hits in that one and then 12 more Tuesday night.Moyer (6-3) struggled after pitching 7 1/3 strong innings in his no-decision against Zito last week.The soft-tossing lefty lost for the first time since a 3-1 defeat at Baltimore on May 25. He needed 37 pitches to get out of the first and reached 3-2 counts against three straight batters."Jamie never had full command on a lot of hitters and he paid the price," Mariners manager Mike Hargrove said. "Jamie has had very few of those kind of starts this year. You don't expect that when Jamie takes the mound."Both of Kielty's doubles -- in the first and fourth -- came on a full count. Moyer allowed three two-out singles and the double in the fourth and threw a wild pitch that allowed a run to score. He gave way to Shigetoshi Hasegawa after 3 2/3 innings, already having thrown 102 pitches.Moyer allowed seven runs, eight hits and four walks. Hasegawa got a 1-2-3 inning in the fifth, the first for either team.Scutaro, the A's No. 9 hitter, connected for his fourth homer in the second and added a single in the seventh. Reigning AL rookie of the year Bobby Crosby singled, drew three walks and scored twice. He has a career-high nine-game hitting streak. Mark Kotsay doubled, singled twice and scored two runs.Eric Byrnes started at designated hitter instead of in the outfield to give his body a break after he crashed hard into the left-field wall in Saturday's win over San Francisco. He went 0-for-3 with a walk.
Seattle recalled catcher Miguel Olivo from Triple-A Tacoma and optioned catcher Rene Rivera to Double-A San Antonio. ... Oakland has allowed three or fewer runs in each of its last 10 games. ... Scutaro has hit three of his 14 career homers off Moyer -- the only pitcher Scutaro has more than one against. He is batting .500 lifetime against Moyer. Kotsay is hitting .650 (13-for-20) against him. ... A's closer Huston Street pitched a perfect ninth in his first appearance since June 14 because of a slightly strained left hamstring. ... A's right-hander Chad Bradford, coming off back surgery, will be in Oakland soon to be examined by team doctors.