Zito goes seven strong to lead A's to third straight

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Ken Macha has been in Oakland long enough
to remember the best of Barry Zito -- and the Athletics manager is
seeing that stuff again from his star left-hander.

Zito allowed eight hits over seven scoreless innings, and the
A's patiently battered Jamie Moyer in their third straight victory,
7-2 over the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night.

Zito (3-3) coolly overcame two errors by his own outfielders,
pitching out of a few jams while allowing two walks and striking
out three. He had just one win in his previous six starts despite
generally strong performances, but the Mariners never got
comfortable against the former AL Cy Young winner's enviable array
of pitches.

"Each start, he's showing some signs of getting back to it,"
said Macha, the A's bench coach during Zito's 23-5 season in 2002.
"The year he won the Cy Young, his command was so good. He was
just mowing through people. ... He's showing signs of getting to
that point."

Zito was just 39-36 over the past three seasons, but he's hoping
for a strong summer in the final year of his contract with the A's.
He usually starts his seasons slowly before picking up steam: He
has a 5.04 career ERA in April, but this start lowered his career
mark in May to 2.80.

"I just have a mentality where I'm going out there and not
trying to be too fine, not thinking too much," Zito said. "I'm
just letting my stuff work for me. Just trust my stuff, trust

Mark Kotsay had two hits and led five Oakland batters who drove
in a run against Moyer (1-4) as the 43-year-old struggled through
six innings in his worst start of the season. Jose Lopez also made
two rally-prolonging errors at second base for Seattle, leading to
two unearned runs in the Mariners' fourth loss in six games.

With five key players on the disabled list after a rash of
injuries, the A's are back above .500 at 20-19 and in a first-place
tie with Texas in the AL West.

"We've still got a way to go to get healed up," said Macha,
whose club is missing outfielder Milton Bradley and pitchers Rich
Harden, Esteban Loaiza, Justin Duchscherer and Jay Witasick.
"Hopefully we start getting guys back in there."

Moyer allowed 11 hits, five earned runs and three walks -- all
season highs -- while failing to make a quality start for just the
second time all season. He has a 6.17 ERA in two starts against
Oakland this season, but a 3.11 mark against the rest of the AL.

Left fielder Jay Payton threw out Raul Ibanez at home plate to
end the Mariners' half of the first inning, and the A's scored
their first run on Moyer's first three pitches. Jason Kendall's RBI
single followed Kotsay's leadoff double to the wall on Moyer's
opening toss.

"The first pitch of the game was up, (and) usually they take
that pitch as a professional courtesy," Moyer said. "Some places
you don't pitch well in. I'm pretty comfortable here, though it
doesn't show. ... They seem more comfortable at home, and they're
swinging the bats better."

Oakland added three runs with a second-inning rally that
included a run-scoring single by Bobby Kielty, who then advanced on
Lopez's error and scored on Kotsay's sacrifice fly.

"Their hits came at the right time, and ours didn't," Seattle
manager Mike Hargrove said. "We get a two-out double in the first,
and they get a leadoff double. That's the way things are."

The A's got three more runs in the fifth in a rally highlighted
by Nick Swisher's RBI single and Lopez's wacky throw into the
Seattle dugout while attempting to turn a bases-loaded double play.

Zito escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, forcing Adrian
Beltre to ground weakly back to the mound. Beltre, who's been
playing with a strained hamstring, was pulled in the late innings.

But pinch-hitter Jeremy Reed drove in Seattle's first run in the
eighth with a bases-loaded single against reliever Chad Gaudin, and
Kenji Johjima added a sacrifice fly. Kiko Calero escaped Gaudin's
mess, and Huston Street finished Oakland's fifth straight win over

"It's a team we have to be better against, a team in our
division," Reed said. "We've struggled against them as long as
I've been here."

Willie Bloomquist's streak of 19 consecutive stolen bases --
longest in the majors -- ended in the third inning when Zito threw
to first as Bloomquist broke for second. Bloomquist hadn't been
caught stealing since May 1 last season -- also at the Coliseum.

Game notes
Ichiro Suzuki extended his hitting streak to 11 games with
a sixth-inning single. ... Swisher reached base in his 34th
straight game. ... Zito made his first start since turning 28 last
Saturday. ... A's DH Frank Thomas went 0-for-2 with two walks in
his return to the lineup after missing four games with a strained
right quadriceps.