Lewis, Rangers thwart Zito, A's

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The ball rocketed off Billy McMillon's
bat, and almost everybody at the Coliseum jumped to the same
conclusion: The Texas Rangers had blown another game in Oakland,
another chance to beat Barry Zito for the first time.

Instead, a stiff wind kept McMillon's ninth-inning fly in the
ballpark, and the Rangers hung on for a 2-1 victory over the
Athletics on Wednesday, snapping a nine-game losing streak against
their AL West rival.

Opening-week victories usually don't mean much, but this one was
important for several reasons. The Rangers got 5 1-3 strong innings
from Colby Lewis and a flawless performance from their maligned
bullpen, which held Oakland without a hit in the final 3 2-3
innings of Texas' first win over the A's since last June 25.

"You couldn't draw it up much better," Texas manager Buck
Showalter said. "A lot of good things happened for a lot of people
who have worked hard to make them happen."

While Lewis and three relievers confounded the A's, Zito took
his first loss to Texas in 18 career starts, allowing seven hits
and four walks over eight innings. The 2002 AL Cy Young winner had
been 11-0 with a 2.40 ERA against the Rangers, who couldn't sign
Zito after drafting him in the third round in 1998.

"Yeah, I guess I'll start a new (streak). What can you do?"
Zito said. "Chalk it up to an outstanding pitching performance on
the other side. ... A lot of guys thought that Billy Mac got the
home run, but it didn't go."

The first two games of the season-opening series were typical
for this rivalry. The A's rallied in the eighth inning for a
victory on opening day, and Mark Mulder shut down the Rangers in a
3-1 win Tuesday night.

But Eric Young had an RBI single and Kevin Mench hit a sacrifice
fly in the early innings against Zito, and that was enough for
Lewis and his relievers. They held Oakland to five hits -- none
after the sixth inning despite a long history of blowing games
against the A's, including Monday's season opener.

Jay Powell pitched out of a jam in the sixth, and Erasmo Ramirez
and Francisco Cordero followed with hitless performances. Cordero
got the final five outs for his first save.

Rookie Bobby Crosby reached second base with one out in the
ninth when Alfonso Soriano dropped his popup for an error, but
Cordero retired pinch-hitters McMillon and Eric Karros on fly balls
to left.

"This is my first year with the full job (as closer), and I was
excited to get in there," Cordero said. "I'm more excited now
that I've got the first one out of the way. I'm not going to give
up because we made an error. I'm going to go back up there and
throw the ball."

Jermaine Dye hit his second homer in two days for the A's, but
his sixth-inning shot was their only extra-base hit.

Lewis worked quickly and confidently, allowing five hits and
four walks while striking out five in his fifth straight victory
dating back to last season. In contrast to the Rangers' struggles
against Oakland, Lewis has won two of his three career starts at
the Coliseum.

"He threw his off-speed pitches for strikes and kept us
off-balance," said Dye, who went 4-for-11 in the series. "We
couldn't get anything going. The Rangers didn't hit Zito hard,
either. It was a tough day for hitters."

Zito was one of just three active pitchers who were unbeaten
against one team with a minimum of 10 wins. Pedro Martinez is 12-0
against Seattle, and Randy Johnson is 11-0 against the Cubs.

Game notes
Oakland's Mark Kotsay robbed Soriano of an extra-base hit
in the third with a sprinting, sprawling catch on the warning
track. ... The A's had a six-game home winning streak dating back
to last season. ... Texas has lost 24 of its last 29 against
Oakland overall. ... C Damian Miller went 0-for-9 in the series.