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Zito loses bid for perfect game in sixth

8/29/2002

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Barry Zito would have had an excuse if
he seemed distracted.

Instead, the Oakland Athletics' player representative took a
perfect game into the sixth inning as the Athletics won their 15th
straight, 7-1 over the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.

"Going out there in every start, there's always going to be
stuff in your personal life and your life on the field that you
have to block out,'' Zito said. "I felt like I did that tonight.

The streak is the longest in the major leagues since Seattle won
15 straight last season. Oakland completed its first 10-0 road
trip, and the streak is the A's longest since they won 17 in a row
from May 5-25, 1931.

"That's our situation as Oakland, but we have to put that aside
right now,'' Zito said. "If we had lost 15 in a row, we'd feel the
same way (about the strike).''

Zito (19-5) gave up one run on four hits in seven innings. His
three strikeouts gave him 154, leaving him third in the AL, one
behind Roger Clemens.

The crowd got impatient early, starting chants of "Let them
strike!'' and "Strike right now!'' in the first inning, as the A's
jumped on starter Shawn Sedlacek.

When reliever Jason Grimsley -- the Royals' player representative
-- entered the game in the top of the eighth, the crowd booed him
loudly.

Sedlacek (3-4) gave up six runs on seven hits in the first
inning, then got things under control, allowing only two hits over
the next five innings.

"I had a terrible first inning and took us out of the game
right off the bat,'' Sedlacek said. "It's not the way to go about
it when you have that good of a team and that good of a pitcher on
the mound.''

Seven different players drove in runs for the A's. Every starter
got a hit, with Eric Chavez and Miguel Tejada getting two.

Zito retired his first 16 batters. A's starters have won 14
games on their 15-game streak.

Neifi Perez singled to center to break up the perfect game with
one out in the sixth.

"You always know what's going on,'' Zito said. "I wasn't
pitching to maintain some kind of no-hitter. I left the ball up the
middle and Perez hit it up the middle. It was a good hit.''

The Royals loaded the bases after that. But Mike Sweeney
grounded out to short to end the threat.

The Royals finally tagged Zito for a run in the seventh, when
Kit Pellow grounded into a double play, scoring Raul Ibanez.

Game notes
Sweeney went 0-for-4, dropping his average to .3441, behind
Bernie Williams' .3444. ... The Royals finished a seven-game
homestand 1-6. Their starters have recorded all seven decisions.
... The Royals are 33-35 at home this season.