DENVER (AP) -- The conversation was short and to the point.
"Hey, man, quit trying to hit home runs," Oakland pitcher Joe Blanton told teammate Nick Swisher.Swisher listened, thought about it, took the advice to heart and
hit two home runs anyway -- including the tying shot in the
ninth -- in Oakland's 3-2, 11-inning victory over the Colorado
Rockies on Wednesday night."It was a nice kick in the pants," Swisher said of Blanton's
suggestion a day earlier. "I was pressing."Swisher scored the winning run on Bobby Kielty's single in
the 11th. Swisher noticed that left fielder Matt Holliday was
shading toward the line and had a long run to field Kielty's hit --
so he took a chance."I didn't even look at (third base coach Ron) Washington,"
Swisher said.Swisher led off the inning by drawing a walk from Ray King (1-3)
and was sacrificed to second by Mark Kotsay. After Eric Chavez
walked, Keilty singled to left and Swisher slid under the tag of
Yorvit Torrealba on Holliday's throw home.Swisher's homer in the ninth off Colorado closer Brian Fuentes,
his 19th, gave him his fourth multihomer game of the season and
helped the A's avoid a three-game sweep. Swisher also homered in
the fourth inning. It was the second time in his career Swisher hit
homers from both sides of the plate.The truth was Swisher didn't try to do anything more than put
the ball in play against Fuentes."He's nasty," Swisher said.Swisher also credited an in-game adjustment to his power surge.
After striking out against Colorado starter Aaron Cook in the first
inning, Swisher looked at his swing on video. He wouldn't say what
adjustment was made, only that he altered his swing."I've never seen a sinker like he was throwing," Swisher said
of Cook's trademark pitch. "He can be successful on just that
pitch."Cook limited Oakland to four hits in eight innings. Cook, who
had lost four of his last five starts, struck out five."Cook was the best pitcher we faced in the series," Oakland
manager Ken Macha said.That's saying something since Colorado's Jason Jennings and
Byung-Hyun Kim threw shutouts the previous two nights. Oakland
scored three runs in 29 innings at Coors Field.Kiko Calero (1-1) pitched two innings for the win. He has not
allowed a run in his last 11 appearances, a span of 11 innings.The A's finally scored their first run of the series with no
outs in fourth inning on Swisher's home run to straightaway center.
It was the first run allowed by Colorado since St. Louis scored
with two outs in the fourth inning on June 18, a team-record span
of 25 1/3 innings.The Rockies' previous mark for scoreless innings was 24 from
April 30 to May 2, 2002.Oakland starter Barry Zito went seven innings, allowing one
earned run and striking out five. He is 4-0 in June and has won six
of his last eight starts."Barry had shutout stuff," Macha said. "We were fortunate.
Swisher bailed us out."Colorado manager Clint Hurdle never considered leaving Cook in
the game for the ninth. Fuentes is the closer, end of discussion."Fuentes has been successful in that role," Hurdle said.
"Cook was outstanding. It's a maddening game. He pitched great,
and that is what he needs to walk out of here with."Cook understood the logic behind Hurdle's decision."I would love to go out there and get a chance to finish it,
but we have a great closer who has been to the All-Star game, and
gets the job done more often than not, and does it very
effectively," Cook said. "It just didn't work out tonight, so we
just have to pick ourselves back up."The A's came into the series on a 10-game winning streak, but
dropped two of three to the Rockies."Got skunked two nights in a row," said Swisher, whose team is
15-4 in June. "We're the comeback kids."
2B Kaz Matsui arrived in Denver to receive treatment for
back spasms. Matsui hurt his back Monday while taking groundballs
at Triple-A Colorado Springs. Matsui doesn't know how long he will
be out, but won't rejoin the Sky Sox until next week. ... Oakland
SS Bobby Crosby received the day off to rest a bruised hand. ...
Pinch-hitters Doug Clark and Jay Payton grounded out and flew out,
respectively, Wednesday. Oakland's pinch hitters are 0-for-21 this
season. ... Oakland closer Huston Street tossed two scoreless
innings, tying his season-high for innings pitched in a game. He
has not allowed a run in 11 of his 12 outings in June.