Chavez busts out of homer slump as A's sweep Rays

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Eric Chavez regained the form that led to
some impressive power numbers. He hopes that signals a good stretch

Chavez hit his first homer in nearly a month, a two-run shot in
the seventh inning that sent Esteban Loaiza and the Oakland
Athletics over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 3-1 Sunday for a three-game

"I went through a tough stretch," said Chavez, who has been
troubled by strained muscles in his forearms since early in the
season. "I'm getting healthy. Obviously the healthier I feel the
better, hopefully, I'll be more often than not. For two months I
had no chance."

Loaiza (6-7) pitched eight strong innings as the AL West-leading
A's won for the ninth time in 10 games. Tampa Bay lost its sixth in
a row.

"That's my fastest speed this year," Loaiza said of reaching
95 on the radar gun twice during the game. "I haven't hit that in
a long time. My first two innings I think the highest I hit was 91.
I got stronger and it turned out to be a great game."

Loaiza allowed three hits and Huston Street got the final three
outs for his 29th save in 36 chances.

"There was a lot of movement on his fastball," A's catcher
Jason Kendall said. "He was consistent with all his pitches."

Tim Corcoran (4-4), the Devil Rays' 28-year-old rookie, did not
allow a hit until Chavez singled leading off the fifth.

"He made one mistake to Chavez, a very good hitter, and he did
not miss it," Devil Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "Other than
that he was very good. So was their guy."

Corcoran retired 19 of the first 21 batters until Frank Thomas
singled ahead of Chavez's homer. Chavez hit his 16th home run of
the season and first since July 19.

"It was a little weird," Chavez said. "When you face a guy
for the first time it's a little different. Frank [Thomas] got the
pressure started with a knock and he tried to sneak in a fastball.
Sometimes you guess right."

Corcoran, using a full windup for the first time this season,
gave up three hits over seven innings. He lost his fourth straight
decision after starting out 4-0 following his recall from Triple-A
Durham on June 14.

"I felt good and was able to put it where I wanted to for the
most part," he said. "The windup felt good. I was able to get
into a good rhythm. Instead of being jerky, it was nice and easy, a
nice flow."

After Russell Branyan hit an RBI double in the second, Loaiza
set down the next 15 hitters before issuing a pair of one-out walks
in the seventh. Loaiza struck out Branyan and got Josh Paul to fly

Loaiza, one of the Athletics' big free-agent signing during the
offseason, has won two straight for the first time since June 8-15.
He struck out five and walked two.

"As far as sheer stuff, that was his best of the year," A's
manager Ken Macha said. "It's been awhile since Chavy hit a home
run. It was good timing for that. His offense has been slowing
coming. Today was a good sign. He drove the ball pretty good in
another at bat too."

The Devils Rays fell to 1-15 on the road since the All-Star
break. They have been swept four times since the All-Star break,
all on the road.

"We've had some sloppy games," Tampa Bay's Greg Norton said.
"We're a team that needs to play a clean game to compete and win,
especially in the division we're in."

Nick Swisher's eighth-inning grounder plated Marco Scutaro with
an insurance run.

Game notes
All six games between the teams have been decided by three
runs or less. ... Devil Rays 3B B.J. Upton led off for the first
time this season. ... A's RHP Rich Harden threw another long-toss
session before the game. ... A's LHP Joe Kennedy was expected to
come off the disabled list in time for Monday night's game against
the Seattle Mariners. ... A's OF Mark Kotsay (back) missed his
seventh game but did participate in pre-game drills and is expected
to play on Monday. ... Street recorded the save in all three games
against the Devil Rays. ... Tampa Bay is 8-35 all-time in Oakland,
its worst AL road park. ... The A's are 11-4 in games which Chavez