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Blanton pitches into ninth as A's win 10th straight

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Throughout the Oakland Athletics' latest
June run, some surprising names have played key roles in keeping
the A's on a roll.

Brad Halsey. Steve Karsay. Bobby Kielty. Jay Payton. Even
seldom-used catcher Adam Melhuse.

That deep bench general manager Billy Beane built last winter is
showing it is every bit as reliable as the A's thought -- and
Oakland is getting the stellar starting pitching that has defined
this organization for years, too.

Joe Blanton pitched into the ninth and Kielty hit a two-run
triple to help the A's sweep the Los Angeles Dodgers with a 5-2 win
Sunday for their season-best 10th straight victory.

"I've never been part of 10 in a row in baseball or 10 in a row
period," Kielty said. "We're playing well right now. It seems
like the month of June is the month the A's get hot, and we're
running with it again now."

Blanton, who retired the side in order on six pitches in the
eighth, left to a standing ovation after allowing consecutive
singles to J.D. Drew and Matt Kemp in the ninth.

The A's looked surprisingly lively in establishing the best
winning streak in the majors this year considering these teams
played 17 innings Saturday night -- with Oakland winning 5-4 in 5
hours, 2 minutes.

Payton had an RBI double and Marco Scutaro had three hits, an
RBI and stole his first base of the year as the A's topped the
nine-game winning streaks San Diego and Philadelphia produced this
season.

This marks Oakland's longest winning streak since the A's also
won 10 in a row from Aug. 23 to Sept. 2, 2003.

The A's improved to 14-2 in June following a 12-17 May. In May
last year, Oakland went 7-20 with two eight-game losing streaks
before getting things going in June.

Blanton (7-6) won back-to-back starts for the first time since
April 24 and 30. He allowed nine hits, struck out three and walked
one in an impressive 96-pitch performance before closer Huston
Street got the final three outs for his 17th save in 21 chances.
Street blew his fourth save Saturday night.

Street got pinch-hitter Jeff Kent to line out to end it, with
fans chanting "Street! Street!"

"They pitched well and they're playing well," Drew said.
"There were a lot of first-pitch strikes."

Nomar Garciaparra hit a solo home run in the sixth for the
Dodgers, the first homer Blanton had given up at home this season --
a span of 44 innings. Ramon Martinez also drove in a run for Los
Angeles with a fifth-inning single that snapped Blanton's home
scoreless innings streak at 21.

Blanton stuck around for all 17 innings Saturday night, then
worked quickly Sunday.

"I tried to make it as quick as possible," he said.

Aaron Sele (3-2) saw his winless stretch reach four starts as he
lost his second straight outing. Sele gave way to Odalis Perez
after only four innings, and Perez pitched a season-high four
innings of relief.

"Aaron had trouble getting the ball down all day and he ended
up paying for it," Dodgers manager Grady Little said.

Sele plunked A's No. 9 hitter Mike Rouse in the fourth after
Blanton hit Garciaparra in the top half of the inning. The
right-hander allowed five runs and seven hits, walked three and
didn't have a strikeout for the second straight start.

Oakland's Eric Chavez, nursing pain in his hamstring where it
attaches to the buttocks, was given the choice to take the day off
but he opted to play designated hitter and went 0-for-4 with two
strikeouts.

A's catcher Jason Kendall told manager Ken Macha he wanted to
play -- even after working all 17 innings Saturday night.

"He doesn't ever want out of the game," Macha said.

Oakland's Dan Johnson went 0-for-2 with two walks to have his
career-high tying 10-game hitting streak snapped.

Sandy Alomar Jr. started at catcher on his 40th birthday in
place of Russell Martin for the Dodgers, who concluded a nine-game
road trip by losing for the fifth time in six games.

Oakland finished an unbeaten homestand of six or more games for
the first time since Aug. 23-29, 2004, when the A's went 7-0
against Baltimore and Tampa Bay.

Game notes
Oakland CF Mark Kotsay missed his third straight game with
back spasms. ... The A's won their fourth straight series against
the Dodgers. ... Kemp stole his fourth base in the second. ...
Kendall has started both games of a doubleheader six times in his
career, but only four of those times did he start the following
day. ... Blanton had lost his only other interleague start this
season, to San Francisco on May 21. ... The A's sold out for the
second straight game with a crowd of 35,077, which included 1,000
standing-room only tickets. ... Karsay, Saturday's winning pitcher,
announced his retirement after the game after an 11-year big league
career.