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Nomo denied his 200th professional victory

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Dan Haren had to convince Ken Macha to
let him stay in the game, because Oakland's manager was about to
call on the bullpen.

Haren pitched a five-hitter for his first career complete game,
and rookie Nick Swisher had a bases-loaded triple and a career-high
four RBI to lead the Athletics past the Tampa Bay Devil Rays 10-1
on Tuesday night.

"It's a great feeling," said Haren, who ended a seven-start
winless stretch. "I've never felt this way before after a win.
I've never been out on the field for the last out and shaken the
catcher's hand."

Mark Kotsay moved down to third in the order and hit a two-run
single as Oakland won its second straight following an eight-game
losing streak, denying Hideo Nomo his 200th combined victory in
Japan and the United States.

The milestone will have to wait, much to the chagrin of his home
nation. The game was televised live by two networks in Japan, with
the first pitch being thrown just after 11 a.m. Wednesday there.

Nomo (3-5) was outpitched by fellow right-hander Haren (2-7),
who struck out five, walked none and threw 98 pitches for his first
victory since April 18. It was just the seventh win by an A's
starter this season and the second in the last 26 games.

"He wanted to complete the game, and he had a huge smile on his
face when he did," Macha said. "He knows he can go out there and
go nine."

While Swisher all but announced that the A's season is on the
upswing, Kotsay refused to get too excited about two wins.

Swisher said he sensed an improvement in the mood of the team
during Monday's 5-4, 11-inning win.

"Something happened last night that changed the attitude of the
team, the momentum," he said. "I have no idea what it was. It's
just a feeling that came over in the dugout, like someone flipped a
switch."

Kotsay, the veteran center fielder, teased his younger teammate
about making such observations too quickly.

"You can't base it on two games at this point," Kotsay said.
"Yes, we're playing better and have done fundamental things to win
baseball games."

Scott Hatteberg turned an unassisted double play at first base
for the A's, who got hits from all but two of their starters.
Kotsay, usually the leadoff man, hit third for the first time this
year and found success despite coming in with a dismal .171
(7-for-41) average and 10 strikeouts lifetime against Nomo.

The A's used four straight left-handed batters in the middle of
their order: Kotsay, Eric Chavez, Dan Johnson and Hatteberg. They
pounded Nomo for four runs in the fourth and batted around in the
inning, taking advantage of three walks.

Haren retired the side in order in the first on 10 pitches
before allowing an RBI double to Alex Sanchez in the second. The
right-hander then got through a perfect third in 11 pitches and
faced one batter over the minimum in his last seven innings.

"Twice, he's had pretty good stuff against us," Tampa Bay's
Josh Phelps said. "Tonight, he was just tough."

Nomo, a 36-year-old right-hander, earned his 199th win with his
strongest performance of the season, a season-high 7 1/3 innings in
a 2-1 victory over the A's last Thursday.

This time, he was done after four innings. He allowed six runs
and seven hits, walked six -- one shy of his career high -- and
struck out two as the Devil Rays fell to a major league-worst 3-20
on the road.

"More important than 200 wins was the fact that we had two
disappointing losses the last two days," Nomo said through an
interpreter. "I hoped to win one for the team. I can't tell you
why or what was different, because I don't know."

Upon reaching 200 wins, he will gain automatic membership in the
Meikyuakai, one of two Hall of Fame equivalents in Japanese
baseball. There is the Japanese baseball Hall of Fame, which
includes elected members, and the Meikyuakai, automatic for players
with 2,000 career hits and pitchers with 200 victories.

Nomo, who has 121 victories in 11 major league seasons, got
through the first in 14 pitches despite allowing a leadoff double
to Jason Kendall. Nomo ran into trouble in the second after giving
up another leadoff double, to Johnson. Bobby Crosby singled him
home two batters later for the shortstop's first RBI this season,
then Swisher singled to right two batters after that to make it
2-1.

Bobby Kielty had an RBI single in the fourth.

Game notes
RHP Chad Orvella made his major league debut for the Devil
Rays in the seventh. ... Nomo is 5-2 in eight career starts against
the A's. "Two hundred wins is a lot of wins," manager Lou
Piniella said before the game. "If you win 200 games in Mexico it
would be a lot. It doesn't matter where you win them. It's a lot of
games, a lot of good pitching. Certainly he's had a distinguished
career. He's been very professional, competed very well and he's
had the success to prove it." ... Dodgers Hall of Fame manager
Tommy Lasorda, now a special adviser to the chairman for Los
Angeles, was on hand to root for Nomo. ... A's No. 2 starter Rich
Harden is progressing from a strained stomach muscle that landed
him on the disabled list. He is scheduled to throw on flat ground
Wednesday from 130 feet and move further back from there.