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Zito fifth A's pitcher with 10 straight wins

4/9/2003

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Barry Zito doesn't take time to reflect on all of his accomplishments. He just keeps adding to them.

Zito struck out seven and allowed just one run over seven innings for his 10th straight victory, leading the Oakland Athletics over the Texas Rangers 2-1 Tuesday night.

Zito (2-0), the AL Cy Young Award winner last season, became just the fifth Oakland pitcher with a 10-game winning streak, the first since Bob Welch in 1990. The 24-year-old lefty is the only Athletics pitcher with two winning streaks of at least nine games.

"I started preparing a little earlier both physically and
mentally during the offseason so I could come right out of the gate
back where I was in August and September of last year,'' Zito said.
"You can look back and say that was great, but that's not going to
help me get any more wins or get any more hitters out in the
future.''

Zito has made 12 regular-season starts since losing at Boston
last Aug. 8, and he also beat Minnesota in the AL playoffs. Zito,
8-0 in 12 starts against the Rangers, gave up four hits and walked
four. He has allowed two runs over 13 innings this season, a 1.38
ERA.

"Zito was right on his game,'' said manager Ken Macha,
Oakland's bench coach the past four seasons. "This guy has been
locked in for quite a while.''

After facing just nine batters through the first three innings -- Ruben Sierra was picked off after a second-inning walk -- Zito escaped a two-on jam in the fourth when he got Sierra on a called third strike. Except for Rafael Palmeiro's homer in the fifth, no
Texas runner got past second against Zito.

"He was really on,'' said All-Star shortstop Alex Rodriguez, a .167 career hitter against Zito. "Barry does a good job not panicking. But when you get opportunities, you have to take full advantage of them, and we weren't able to.''

Rodriguez went 0-for-2 with a walk against Zito, twice striking
out on three pitches. In 30 career at-bats against Zito, he has 11
strikeouts and five hits.

Keith Foulke, Oakland's fourth pitcher, got the four outs for
his third save, completing the five-hitter.

Texas tried to come back in the ninth after shortstop Miguel
Tejada, in short right field because of a drastic defensive shift,
mishandled Palmeiro's soft grounder to start the inning. Jermaine
Clark took over as the pinch-runner and moved to third on Michael
Young's one-out single.

But pinch-hitter Mike Lamb then took a called third strike and
Doug Glanville popped out.

Scott Hatteberg went 3-for-5 with a tiebreaking RBI double in
the seventh, the third straight hit off Esteban Yan (0-1), who
relieved John Thomson to start the inning. Thomson struck out
seven, allowing one run and seven hits.

"Thomson was throwing outstanding, we were just able to get his
pitch count up early,'' Hatteberg said. "It was a great pitcher's
battle on both sides. With our staff throwing like they did, two
runs were all we needed.''

Chris Singleton led off the seventh with a double, but was
thrown out at the plate by right fielder Juan Gonzalez while trying
to score on Mark Ellis' third hit. Ellis then scored the go-ahead
run when Hatteberg doubled over Gonzalez.

Tejada, the AL MVP, stopped an 0-for-11 slump with an RBI double
after Hatteberg's leadoff single in the fourth. But with two on and
two outs in the fifth, Tejada took a called third strike.

Palmeiro led off the bottom half with his 492nd homer, his
second this season.

In his first at-bat from the No. 6 spot -- his lowest in a
batting order since 1997 with Baltimore -- Palmeiro struck out in
the second against Zito. Palmeiro is a .179 career hitter
(5-for-28) against Zito with eight strikeouts and two homers.

Game notes
Oakland is 63-23 in Zito's 86 starts. ... Oakland has a two-game lead in the AL West over Seattle, the first time since
1992 the A's have had a two-game division lead in April. ... Tejada avoided going three straight games without a hit. He went hitless in three games only once last season. ... The game began with a temperature of 51 degrees, the lowest for the start of a game at The Ballpark in Arlington, which is in its 10th season. There were gusty winds, and the paid attendance was just 18,036.