<
>

Zito, A's top Rangers to snap seven-game losing skid

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- The Oakland Athletics got a
slump-busting effort from Barry Zito.

Zito pitched 7 1-3 strong innings and continued his success
against Texas to help Oakland snap a season-high seven-game losing
streak with a 6-3 win over the Rangers on Saturday night.

Zito (4-3) allowed three runs and four hits in a 126-pitch
outing. He struck out seven and walked five while improving to 10-1
for his career in Arlington, 16-3 overall against the Rangers.

"Barry demonstrated again why he's been the ace for years,"
said A's closer Huston Street, who got five outs for his eighth
save in 10 chances. "To throw 126 pitches is unbelievable. That
takes a load off the bullpen and keeps everybody fresh. He steps up
in big situations and big games."

Zito continued a hot month, having allowed six earned runs in
his last six starts for an ERA of 1.32 in May.

"Huge effort by Zito," A's manager Ken Macha said. "When you
have a solid veteran pitcher, you usually know what you're going to
get."

Zito walked two before exiting in the eighth, but Street came on
to get Phil Nevin to hit into a double play.

Nevin's walk-off solo homer off Street gave the Rangers an 8-7
victory over the A's on Thursday night. Nevin had a three-run homer
off Zito in the sixth.

"Huston overcame Phil Nevin after what happened a couple nights
ago," Zito said. "He picked me up and he picked the team up."

The final two walks tarnished what was otherwise a stellar
outing from Zito, who allowed more than one run in a game for the
first time in five starts.

"It was a little frustrating," Zito said. "I wanted to finish
strong. I tried to be too fine out there. I should have just let it
go."

Zito had the Rangers off-balance most of the night, featuring an
effective change-up to go with his fastball and curve.

"When he has all three pitches going like that, it's going to
be tough to put five, six runs on the board," Rangers catcher Rod
Barajas said.

Injuries to the pitching staff have contributed to Oakland's
recent tailspin, and the A's hope Saturday night's victory points
them in the right direction.

"It was a good time to end it," said A's DH Frank Thomas, who
went 2-for-3 and walked twice. "Lose any more and you can bury
yourself that way."

Nick Swisher went 2-for-4, including a two-run triple in the
sixth that extended the A's lead to 6-0 and chased Rangers starter
Kameron Loe (3-5).

Loe allowed six runs and 11 hits in 5 2-3 innings. He struck out
two and walked two.

The A's, outscored 40-21 during the seven-game skid, took a 2-0
lead in the first on Thomas' RBI single and Bobby Crosby's
sacrifice fly.

In the third, the A's capitalized on a bases-loaded fielding
error by Rangers third baseman Hank Blalock for a 4-0 advantage.
Jay Payton's grounder kicked off Blalock's glove and into foul
territory, with Eric Chavez and Thomas scoring on the play.

Zito took a three-hit shutout and six-run lead into the sixth,
but he hit Mark Teixeira with a pitch, walked Blalock, and gave up
Nevin's ninth homer of the season to make it 6-3.

Game notes
Before the game, Texas' Michael Young received his silver
bat for winning the 2005 AL batting title. ...Swisher is 10-for-17
in his last five games. ...Two rainouts from the Rangers' series at
Boston May 12-14 have been rescheduled. One will be part of a
day-night doubleheader (12:25 p.m. and 7:05 p.m.) on June 10. The
second makeup will be July 20 at 1:05 p.m. ...OF Adrian Brown,
designated for assignment by Texas on May 25, cleared waivers and
has accepted an assignment with the Rangers' Triple-A Oklahoma
minor league affiliate. ...Crosby's third-inning single ended an
0-for-19 slide.