Mulder goes six strong as A's win fourth straight

BALTIMORE (AP) -- Mark Mulder is beginning to feel like his old
self. For at least one night, he looked that way, too.

Oakland's ace won for the first time since April 6, allowing one
earned run over six innings as the Athletics defeated the Baltimore
Orioles 5-2 Tuesday night.

Moved up a day in the rotation by Oakland manager Art Howe,
Mulder responded with a performance that was reminiscent of last
year, when he went 21-8. The left-hander gave up two runs, eight
hits and struck out four.

Pitching for the fourth time since being activated from the
disabled list on May 9, Mulder (3-4) had only one perfect inning
but never wavered after being staked to a 4-0 lead in the second.

''I felt probably as good as I have since Seattle in my second
start in the year. With all my pitches, I was throwing strikes and
for the most part getting ahead of hitters,'' he said. ''I had a
lot of confidence out there, especially when I got in those jams. I
just knew I was going to get out of them.''

Mulder won his first two starts this season before leaving with
a strained left forearm in his third outing. The injury put him on
the DL, and he entered Tuesday's game with a four-game losing
streak and a 6.96 ERA.

All that's behind him now.

''I felt really good out there. I felt back to the way I should
be throwing the ball,'' he said.

Eric Chavez and Adam Piatt both hit two-run homers for the A's,
whose fourth straight victory matched a season high.

''That's what it takes to win,'' Howe said. ''You get good
starting pitching, some timely hits like we did tonight, some solid
D. That's the way we've been playing here of late. It kind of goes
hand in glove with winning.''

After Mulder left, Jim Mecir pitched two innings, and Billy Koch
worked the ninth for his 10th save.

While Mulder managed to shake a lengthy slump, Orioles starter
Calvin Maduro continued to struggle. The right-hander yielded five
runs and six hits in 4 2-3 innings, a performance that could cost
him his spot in the rotation.

''We needed to see Calvin go out there and pitch well, and I'm
not sure he did that,'' said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove, hinting
that a change was in the offing.

''We've got a plan, but until we finalize it I'd rather not say
anything,'' he said. ''Let's just say obviously we have people
coming back.''

Jason Johnson, who is out with a broken finger, could return as
soon as next week if his rehabilitation assignment goes well this

Tony Batista had three hits for the Orioles, who have lost 10 of
14. Chris Singleton went 0-for-4 with a walk, ending his
career-high 15-game hitting streak.

The A's got all the offense they needed in the second inning.
After Jermaine Dye walked and Chavez followed with his 12th homer,
Terrence Long walked and Piatt homered to center. Maduro threw 32
pitches in the inning, in addition to throwing to first base seven

Piatt has four homers this season, all in the last four games.

''I'm seeing the ball well, but not trying to do too much,'' he
said. ''He just left a slider up.''

Aided by two Oakland errors, Baltimore scored twice in the
bottom half on an RBI single by Marty Cordova and a sacrifice fly
by Melvin Mora.

Long chased Maduro in the fifth with a two-out RBI double that
put the A's up 5-2.

Game notes
Chavez stole second in the third, giving Oakland 11 steals
for the season. Earlier, Mora recorded his team-high 11th steal for
Baltimore. ... Mulder, who allowed seven runs against the Orioles
on Thursday, lowered his ERA to 6.10. ... Cordova's single snapped
an 0-for-12 skid. ... Baltimore's Willis Roberts lowered his ERA to
2.03 with 3 1-3 innings of scoreless relief ... Chavez ended an
11-game homerless drought.