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Tejada ends slump with three hits, HR

4/10/2003

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Miguel Tejada was never concerned by his slow start. Now the AL MVP is showing everyone he's not distracted by talk about his contract.

Tejada went 3-for-4 with a homer and made a couple of nice
defensive plays in the Oakland Athletics' 13-5 win over the Texas
Rangers on Wednesday night.

"I think everybody was worried about me, worried about
everything going on and that I had a slow start,'' Tejada said. "I
don't worry. I know I'm going to be OK. Now I've had a couple of
hits and can tell them I'm OK.''

The three-hit night raised Tejada's average from .188 to .250 (9-for-36). His second homer of the season, a two-run shot in the fifth, made it 8-1 and chased Ismael Valdes.

Tejada can become a free agent after the season, and team president Steve Schott said during the spring that the A's wouldn't offer Tejada a contract.

The shortstop said last week that he wants a new deal before the
end of the season or he would become a free agent. Schott now says
there is the possibility of re-signing Tejada, but not to a long-term contract.

That's not the reason for his slow start, Tejada insists.

"Everybody knows I'm a slow starter. I'm working hard and
feeling better,'' he said. "The good thing is, I haven't been
hitting, but we've been winning.''

Scott Hatteberg also homered and had three hits for the A's, who
won their fifth straight game and are 7-1, their best start since 1991.

Terrence Long and Mark Ellis hit home runs in the third inning
to put Mark Mulder (1-0) and the Athletics ahead to stay. It was
Oakland's ninth straight victory over Texas.

Texas has lost three straight and at 2-6 is already five games
back in the AL West under new manager Buck Showalter.

Rangers slugger Rafael Palmeiro hit his 493rd homer, tying Lou Gehrig for 19th on the career list.

After Hatteberg's three-run homer in the eighth for an 11-4
lead, rookie reliever Reynaldo Garcia hit Tejada with his next
pitch and was immediately ejected by plate umpire C.B. Bucknor.

Showalter understood the ejection, but said Garcia was just
trying to throw an inside slider. Tejada said he knows Garcia and
knows it wasn't intentional.

The A's like what they saw from Tejada.

"You don't really worry about Miggy. People have such high expectations of him, but he's human also,'' Long said. "He's relaxed and he's too good to worry about seven games.''

Tejada twice robbed two-time AL MVP Juan Gonzalez of hits. He
made a diving stab of a liner in the third, and in the seventh went
deep into the hole to his right and completed the throw to first
for the out. But Tejada also made his third error on a wild throw
in the third.

Mulder worked into the sixth inning for his seventh straight win
in a span of 11 starts, giving up four runs on nine hits. He is
18-3 in his last 26 starts.

Long led off the third with a 407-foot homer that hit off the
facade of the second deck in right for a 1-0 lead. Ellis' two-out
homer went 405 feet into the left-center bleachers.

Tejada led off the fourth with a single before Valdes (1-1) got
two quick outs. But his only two walks loaded the bases, and Ramon
Hernandez and Chris Singleton, the last two hitters in Oakland's
order, hit consecutive two-run singles to make it 6-1.

Tejada's homer came right after Hatteberg led off the fifth with
a walk.

Valdes, who left his first two starts early because of blisters
on his hand, gave up eight runs on seven hits. He struck out six.

"He's feeling better, as evidenced by the strikeouts,'' Showalter said. "But he threw some pitches in areas he doesn't need to get them. And they hit every mistake he made.''

Mulder left three batters into the sixth, not long after
Palmeiro led off with his third homer of the season. Jeremy Fikac
got out of the two-on, no-out jam with a double-play grounder and a
lineout.

Alex Rodriguez's third hit was a two-out single in the fifth,
and Gonzalez followed with his AL-leading fourth homer to get Texas
to 8-3. Rodriguez had an RBI double in the third.

Texas rookie third baseman Mark Teixeira, 0-for-16 before a
sixth-inning double, added an RBI single in the eighth.

Game notes
Mulder has a 3.20 ERA (28 earned runs) in 78 2/3 innings
during his winning streak. ... Valdes' ERA jumped from 4.09 to
7.80. ... Texas has never lost more than nine straight games
against one team. The Rangers also lost their ninth straight to
Toronto in May 1987. ... Mike Neu made his big league debut for
Oakland, pitching a perfect ninth.