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Oakland's Zito 8-0 in last 10 starts

9/29/2002

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Barry Zito won't sit back now and
reflect on his great season or worry about the possibility of
winning the AL Cy Young Award.

Zito is already getting focused on Game 3 of the Athletics'
first-round AL playoff series against Minnesota, when he will pitch
again.

"My biggest concern was to get on track for the playoffs and
get my mental game where it needed to be,'' Zito said after he got
his league-leading 23rd win Sunday in Oakland's 8-7 win over the
Texas Rangers.

"At the end of the season, I'll sit down at home and pat myself
on the back,'' he said.

Jermaine Dye hit his fourth career grand slam for the AL West
champions, who finished the regular season 103-59. The A's had
their most wins since 1990 and matched the New York Yankees for
most in the major leagues, but finished a half-game behind for
home-field advantage through the AL playoffs.

The Rangers managed just one run and three singles in six
innings against Zito (23-5), who struck out four and walked two in
the his AL-high 35th start.

"Barry pitched a gem. He has done that all season long,'' said
Oakland manager Art Howe. "Certainly a Cy Young-type season.''

Zito won the most games by an AL left-hander since Frank Viola
had 24 wins for Minnesota in 1988. Zito is 8-0 in his last 10
starts and had a 2.75 ERA, the lowest for an Oakland starter in 13
seasons.

Eric Chavez, just 8-for-51 (.157) his last 13 games, hit an RBI
single in the first and added an RBI double in the third that broke
a 1-all tie and put Oakland ahead to stay.

Ivan Rodriguez, the 10-time All-Star catcher likely playing his
last game in Texas, led off the seventh against Jeff Tam with 19th
homer. He had an RBI double off the right-center field wall in the
eighth and then left for a pinch-runner.

Rodriguez, who is eligible for free agency in an offseason
Rangers owner Tom Hicks wants to cut payroll, went 2-for-4, and got
loud, long standing ovations each time he batted.

"I'll sit down with my agent. It's a moment of wait,'' said
Rodriguez, who was 19 years old when he made his debut with the
Rangers in 1991. "It will be an interesting offseason. We'll see
what happens.''

The Rangers are unlikely to give Rodriguez the long-term deal he
wants. He spent nearly two months on the disabled list with a
herniated disk in his back this season after missing the end of the
2000 and 2001 seasons with injuries.

After his homer, teammates Rafael Palmeiro and Alex Rodriguez
came out of the dugout and hugged him on the field. Ivan Rodriguez
then made a curtain call, just like he did after he doubled in his
last at-bat.

"It was very nice, a very good moment,'' Rodriguez said. "I
will remember that the rest of my career.''

Dye's 24th homer ended the day for rookie Joaquin Benoit (4-5),
who allowed a season-high eight runs, six hits and six walks over 3
1-3 innings.

Before Dye homered, Benoit walked three and allowed an RBI
single by Miguel Tejada in the shortstop's final at-bat of the
regular season.

Tejada, who walked his first two at-bats, hit .308 (204-for-662)
with 34 homers and 131 RBI.

Alex Rodriguez went 1-for-4 with a two-run double in a three-run
ninth off Billy Koch. He finished with a .300 average while leading
the majors with 57 homers and 142 RBI.

"I've played a lot of pressure games. I was definitely
pressing,'' said Rodriguez, who ended an 0-for-12 slump with the
hit. "For some reason or another, that hit was one of the sweetest
I've felt in my career.''

Rodriguez played the whole game despite a stiff back after being
hit by a pitch Saturday night. A-Rod, who had a .300 average going
into the game, admitted that he considered sitting out.

David Justice's RBI single in the third gave Oakland a 3-1 lead.

Palmeiro had an RBI single in the first. The Rangers, who lost
13 of their last 16 games, didn't score again until Ivan
Rodriguez's homer. They finished 72-90, one win less than last
year.

Game notes
Zito is 7-0 with a 3.01 ERA in 10 career starts against
Texas. ... A-Rod's 57 homers are the most for an AL hitter since
Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961. ... The 255 homers hit in Arlington,
including a team-record 132 by the Rangers, were the most at a
major league ballpark this season. ... The 2,352,397 attendance was
the lowest at The Ballpark in Arlington for a full season. The
stadium opened in 1994, and drew just less under 2 million during
the strike-shortened 1995 season. ... Oakland won 12 of its final
15 games.