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Sunday, March 23, 2008
A's use long ball to beat up on Hanshin Tigers

Associated Press

TOKYO -- Donnie Murphy hit a grand slam in the eighth inning Sunday, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Hanshin Tigers 10-2 in their final exhibition game before opening the regular season in Japan against the Boston Red Sox.

Donnie Murphy
Oakland's Donnie Murphy celebrates his eighth-inning grand slam against the Hanshin Tigers .

The A's face the Red Sox at Tokyo Dome on March 25, the earliest regular-season opener in major league history, and again on March 26.

Murphy, who will take over from Marco Scutaro as the A's primary backup infielder, connected off Hanshin reliever Jeff Williams with a blast into the right-field stands that made it 10-2.

"I was looking for a specific pitch, a fastball low and I put a good swing on it," Murphy said. "It was exactly what I was looking for."

Murphy batted .220 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 42 games last season for the A's. He also had eight doubles and drew 10 walks.

Jack Cust hit a two-run homer in the first inning and Travis Buck followed with solo shot to deep right in the third as the A's jumped out to a 3-1 lead.

"It felt good to get a lead early in the game," Cust said. "We swung the bats well, put up some runs and pitched well, so overall it was a good game."

Later in the third, Daric Barton hit a towering fly ball to center field that Hanshin outfielder Norihiro Akahoshi lost in the Tokyo Dome roof, allowing two runners to score and giving Oakland a comfortable 5-1 lead.

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"It was good to get the offense moving before the start of the season," said Oakland manager Bob Geren. "Everybody is swinging well and it's a good sign."

A's starter Justin Duchscherer picked up the win after giving up two runs and six hits over five innings.

Oakland beat the Yomiuri Giants 4-3 on Saturday in their first of two exhibition games against Japanese teams. The Red Sox take on the Giants later Sunday.

Hanshin starter Shinobu Fukuhara took the loss after giving up five runs and eight hits over five innings.