Series: Game 1 of 3

Oakland leads 1-0 (as of 4/18)

Game 1: Friday, April 18
Game 2: Saturday, April 19
Game 3: Sunday, April 20

Rangers 0

(7-10, 2-5 away)

Athletics 9

(9-8, 6-1 home)

    10:05 PM ET, April 18, 2003 Coliseum, Oakland, California 

    123456789 R H E
    TEX 000000000 0 6 3
    OAK 50031000 - 9 12 0

    W: B. Zito (3-1)

    L: J. Thomson (0-2)

    A's return to winning ways at home

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- As usual, whatever was wrong with the Oakland Athletics went away when Barry Zito took the Coliseum mound.

     Barry Zito

    Zito pitched a six-hitter, and Erubiel Durazo hit a two-run double and a homer as the A's got back to their winning ways at home, beating the Texas Rangers 9-0 Friday night.

    Terrence Long and Ramon Hernandez homered and drove in two runs apiece for the A's, who won seven of their first eight games this season, then lost seven of eight. On Wednesday, they finished a 3-7 road trip that included their first six-game losing streak in two years.

    But in their return to Oakland, the A's reverted to top form. That's no surprise when Zito pitches at home: He's 22-1 in his last 31 starts at the Coliseum since June 2001.

    "I prepared and really beared down for this start, because it never feels good to lose after you've won a few," said Zito, whose career-best 10-game winning streak was snapped in his previous start against Anaheim. "Hopefully this will get us back on track.That's what we were trying to do."

    Zito, who didn't record a shutout while winning the AL Cy Young award last season, had no trouble shutting down the Rangers. He struck out six and allowed just two runners to reach third base in the sixth complete game of his career.

    What's more, he did it without even using his famous curveball until the fifth inning -- a quirk of the game plan against the free-swinging Rangers.

    "I got the feeling he made it look pretty easy,'' Texas manager Buck Showalter said. "When he has that kind of command, you can see what happens."

    The A's are many experts' favorites to reach the World Series this season, but they appeared headed for their third straight slow start during their road trip. Manager Ken Macha insisted his club hadn't lost its confidence while struggling, as it did in each of the previous two Aprils under Art Howe.

    "I think a lot of guys' confidence was down this week," Long said. "We were hitting the ball well, but we weren't scoring runs. It was just a matter of getting some balls to fall in. Today, we got those four doubles in the first inning. That got us going."

    So did Zito (3-1), who improved to 9-0 in his career against Texas.

    He retired the Rangers' first 11 hitters on the way to his fourth career shutout, while Oakland scored five runs in the first against John Thomson (0-2).

    The A's had a season-high five hits in the inning, including four doubles. The rally didn't get going until third baseman Mark Teixeira was charged with a throwing error on Miguel Tejada's one-out grounder, though Rafael Palmeiro's clumsy scoop attempt at first base was just as culpable.

    Durazo drove home Tejada and Eric Chavez with a double down the line. The A's slow-footed designated hitter scored a few moments later on Long's single to left, sliding home ahead of the throw.

    Thomson allowed eight hits and eight runs -- just three were earned -- in 3 2/3 innings.

    "I didn't think anything was there tonight,"Thomson said. "Every ball seemed to find the middle of the plate, and find their bats. I try not to let it enter my mind who I'm facing, but after giving up five runs in the first inning, I sat there and said that probably wasn't good, because of the guy on the other side. He's a Cy Young winner, and he threw the ball well."

    Long and Hernandez hit consecutive homers in the fourth, and Scott Hatteberg's double later in the inning chased Thomson. Hatteberg scored from second when reliever Esteban Yan fielded Tejada's grounder and threw it past Palmeiro at first -- though Palmeiro also made a poor play on that throw.

    Hernandez, the light-hitting catcher who struggled for most of last season, extended his hitting streak to eight games.

    Texas loaded the bases in the fourth on two singles and a four-pitch walk to Ruben Sierra, but Palmeiro flied out to left.

    The Rangers put runners on second and third with one out in the ninth, but Zito struck out Palmeiro and got Todd Greene to fly out to left field to end it.

    Game notes
    Yan struck out six in 3 1/3 innings of relief. ... Long's RBI single in the first inning was his 500th career hit. ... Before the game, Texas designated LHP C.J. Nitkowski for assignment. Nitkowski was terrible in six relief appearances this month, and the Rangers must trade, release or outright him to the minors in 10 days. ... The Rangers also put RHP Jay Powell, another struggling reliever, on the 15-day disabled list with symptoms of vertigo.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press