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Haren, homers help A's regain first in AL West

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics had just moved into first
place in the AL West, and the reaction in the clubhouse was a
collective yawn.

"It's not important at all. It's really insignificant," third
baseman Eric Chavez said Sunday after Oakland rolled to its fifth
straight victory, a 10-3 rout of the Baltimore Orioles.

Dan Haren pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, and the
Athletics hit three home runs in reaching double figures in scoring
for a second straight game.

That, more than the fact that Oakland moved ahead of the Los
Angeles Angels in the standings, was what mattered most to the
charging A's.

"Just a week ago we couldn't find a hit," said Chavez,
referring to a stretch in which Oakland lost seven of eight,
including three straight to Baltimore. "Hitting is really going to
dictate how well we do the next month."

Scott Hatteberg, Marco Scutaro and Mark Ellis homered to help
the A's pass the Angels, who lost to Tampa Bay 2-1.

"I already told you I'm not riding the roller coaster,"
Oakland manager Ken Macha said.

Oakland, which has outscored the Orioles 26-7 in the first three
games of the series, will seek its first four-game sweep in
Baltimore on Monday.

Haren (11-10) struck out three, walked one and hit a batter. The
right-hander had lost his last three starts, in part because
Oakland totaled only one run while he was pitching.

"I was getting great run support for two or three months
straight, then I think the whole team ran into a little funk,"
Haren said. "Hopefully that was our little hiccup this year and
we're back in it."

Melvin Mora homered twice and David Newhan also connected for
the Orioles, who have lost eight of nine to fall a season-high
seven games under .500 (61-68). Baltimore issued a season-high 11
walks, made its sixth error in three games and continued its
struggle to score, but interim manager Sam Perlozzo decided against
gathering the team for a stern lecture.

"If I had thought going in there and yelling at these guys
would make them get a hit, I wouldn't be able to talk to you right
now," he said. "These guys are not stupid. They're trying.
They're putting pressure on themselves, but they've got to get over
it.

"What would I yell at them for? For not getting a hit? They're
trying. When they quit trying, when they get lazy, I'll yell at
them."

The A's led 3-2 before pulling away with a six-run seventh in
which the Orioles issued five walks, hit a batter and committed a
passed ball. Oakland got only two hits in the inning, one of which
left the infield.

After Jay Payton hit a leadoff single off Jorge Julio, two walks
loaded the bases. Tim Byrdak came in and walked Hatteberg to force
in a run, then hit Nick Swisher with a pitch before a passed ball
by Javy Lopez allowed another run to score.

Pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty followed with an infield hit to third
that scored Hatteberg, and another run came in on the play when
Mora threw wildly to first. Payton completed the scoring with a
sacrifice fly.

"We took advantage of some wildness in that one inning," Macha
said. "It kind of opened up the game a lot."

Afterward, Perlozzo said Byrdak was pitching with a sore
shoulder and would probably be rested for several days.

Ellis homered in the eighth to make it 10-2.

Hatteberg snapped a 2-for-27 skid with a solo shot off rookie
John Maine (1-1) in the first inning and Scutaro led off the third
with his fifth home run. Dan Johnson drew a bases-loaded walk in
the fifth for a 3-0 lead.

"They did a good job taking pitches," said Maine, who walked
three. "That's the most patient team I've seen in professional
baseball."

Haren held Baltimore hitless until Jay Gibbons doubled with two
outs in the fifth. In the sixth, the Orioles closed to 3-2 when
Newhan hit a one-out homer and Mora connected with two outs.

Mora also homered leading off the ninth, his 19th. He has three
homers in his last two games after going 35 games without one.

Game notes
The Orioles placed OF Sammy Sosa (toe) on the 15-day
disabled list and recalled 1B Alejandro Freire from Triple-A
Ottawa. ... Haren has yielded 15 HRs in his last 13 starts after
allowing eight in his first 15 starts. ... Kendall was hit by
Maine's pitch in the fifth, giving him 192 HBPs, tied with Minnie
Minoso for 8th place on the major league's career list. ...
Baltimore starters have a 7.24 ERA in the series.