OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Mark Ellis felt like a spectator while
the Oakland Athletics roared off on their latest winning streak.
The second baseman's slump finally ended with two clutch hits -- and
the A's roll shows no signs of slowing.
Ellis drove in four runs with a homer and a bases-loaded double,
leading the surging A's to a 7-4 victory over the Texas Rangers on
Milton Bradley also homered and drove in two runs for AL
West-leading Oakland, which won for the eighth time in nine games
in the opener of a 10-game homestand. The A's went 5-1 on the road
last week against division rivals Los Angeles and Seattle -- no
thanks to Ellis, who was batting .192 since the All-Star break.
But Ellis did most of the A's offensive work from the ninth slot
in the batting order against Texas. He also made a sparkling play
in the field, sprinting to grab Ian Kinsler's popup near the foul
line in the ninth.
"Sometimes when you're in a prolonged slump like I've been, you
don't feel you're contributing," Ellis said. "It was nice to be a
part of it."
"Those were two huge hits," manager Ken Macha said.
"Hopefully, he'll have some carry-over, get a little confidence
Before the game, Macha said Ellis might be taking too many
pitches -- a rare criticism for a player on the walk-worshipping
A's. After talking to hitting coach Gerald Perry before the game,
Ellis fell just short of his season high of five RBI, set July 14
"In certain situations, you have to be a little more
aggressive," Ellis said. "We've talked about it before, and today
was one of those days."
This victory pushed Oakland to a season-high 10 games above
.500, maintaining its three-game lead over the Angels atop the AL
Esteban Loaiza (5-7) got only his second victory in eight
starts, repeatedly pitching out of trouble in 6 2/3 innings while
allowing 10 hits and four runs.
"I'm happy with what I've been doing, but now I just feel a lot
stronger," Loaiza said.
His inconsistent, injury-plagued first season in Oakland has
featured regular boos from the Coliseum crowd -- and his arrest on
drunken-driving charges in June while reportedly going 120 mph in
his Ferrari on an Oakland freeway.
But Loaiza got a warm ovation from fans when he left in the
seventh, and three relievers finished his second home win of the
season. Kiko Calero pitched the ninth for his second save, resting
Huston Street after three straight days of work for the Oakland
Eric Chavez, the A's Gold Glove third baseman, made two big
plays to back Loaiza. Chavez threw out Mark Teixeira at the plate
in the second inning, then tagged Mark DeRosa off third and threw
across the diamond for a double play in the fourth.
Hank Blalock hit his 13th homer for the Rangers, who lost their
third straight to fall back below .500 (56-57) after a 4-1 start to
their 10-game road trip.
Edinson Volquez (0-1), a disaster during limited time with Texas
last season, yielded five hits and four runs in his first start of
the year. The rookie right-hander was recalled from Triple-A
Oklahoma before the game to fill in for Kip Wells, who remained in
Dallas with an unspecified arm ailment.
"He's a young man," Rangers manager Buck Showalter said. "He
just turned 23, (but) he handled himself very well. ... He was more
comfortable, and he threw more strikes."
Oakland went up 3-2 on Ellis' homer, and Swisher's single drove
home Frank Thomas in the fourth. Blalock hit a solo homer in the
sixth, but Ellis replied with two more RBI.
Kinsler doubled and scored on Gary Matthews Jr.'s sacrifice fly
in the seventh to trim Oakland's lead to 6-4, but Bradley then hit
his eighth homer.
"They're a good club, and right now everyone seems to be
feeding off of each other," Texas' Michael Young said.
Teixeira went 2-for-4, reaching base in his 31st
consecutive game. ... LF Carlos Lee stole his first base since
joining the Rangers. ... Joe Kennedy and Scott Sauerbeck threw two
scoreless innings apiece for Triple-A Sacramento in their quest to
return to the A's bullpen. Kennedy has been on the disabled list
since May 11 with left shoulder tendinitis, while Sauerbeck has
been on the DL since July 26 with a strained right groin. ... Adam
Melhuse got Oakland's second pinch-hit of the season, singling
while batting for Thomas in the seventh. Melhuse had a personal
0-for-14 skid as a pinch-hitter, and Oakland's pinch-hitters
improved to 2-for-34. ... Thomas left because he was feeling ill,