<
>

Melhuse homers to support pitcher

5/13/2004

DETROIT (AP) -- Back when they were roommates in minor league
training camp, Rich Harden and Jeremy Bonderman imagined someday
facing each other in the big leagues.

They got that chance Wednesday night, and the matchup turned out
just the way they hoped -- a well-pitched game.

Both went seven solid innings, but Harden pitched the Oakland
Athletics to a 2-1 victory over Bonderman and the Detroit Tigers.

"It was great, because we've been looking forward to this for a
long time," Harden said.

Bonderman said that he was able to enjoy the night despite the
loss.

"It was fun to go out there and compete equally with him," he
said. "Obviously, I would have liked to win the game, but I feel
good that I was able to give my team a chance to win."

Harden (2-2) won his second start in a row, giving up seven hits
and striking out eight in helping the A's to their season-high
third straight win.

"Obviously, that's a great game by Harden," said Oakland
manager Ken Macha. "They got the leadoff man on in four of the
first five innings, but he only gave up one run, so you could see
that he was pitching his way out of trouble."

Arthur Rhodes pitched a perfect ninth for his seventh save and
first appearance since last Friday. He had been bothered by
tendinitis in his non-pitching shoulder.

"He was throwing strikes, and they were nasty strikes," Macha
said. "That was good to see."

Bobby Kielty broke a 1-1 tie in the seventh with a sacrifice
fly. Bobby Crosby singled with one out, moved to third on Mark
Kotsay's single and Kielty drove him in with a fly to right.

Bonderman (3-2) lost for the first time in three tries against
his former team. He allowed two runs on four hits and five walks in
seven innings.

Tigers catcher Brandon Inge, who struck out twice against
Harden, said the two friends are very similar on the mound.

"I told Bondo during the game that he and Harden are a lot
alike," Inge said. "The thing with Harden is that his
split-finger is unbelievable; it's borderline Roger
Clemens-quality."

Oakland only had one runner in scoring position in the first
four innings, but took the lead in the fifth on Adam Melhuse's
leadoff homer.

Detroit tied it in the bottom half. Omar Infante walked, took
second on Alex Sanchez's bunt single and moved to third on a
sacrifice bunt. He scored when Ivan Rodriguez's single went off
second baseman Mark McLemore's glove.

The Tigers missed several good early scoring chances. In the
first inning, the first three batters reached base, but Sanchez was
caught stealing and Harden escaped.

In the third, Detroit had runners on the corners with one out,
but Harden struck out Rodriguez and Rondell White flied out.

"That at-bat by Rodriguez was huge," Macha said. "He started
him with a fastball, then a slider, then struck him out with a
tremendous split."

Harden pitched his final two innings exclusively from the
stretch position, and only allowed one single.

"I didn't have my best command tonight, and that's something we
have tried in the minors," he said. "When I'm on, pitching from
the warmup is best, but when I don't have great feel, it always
helps to go to the stretch."

Game notes
The game was completed in 2 hours, 26 minutes -- 2:12
shorter than Tuesday night's 5-4, 15-inning victory by Oakland. ...
Tigers 1B Carlos Pena robbed Scott Hatteberg of a probable two-run
double in the sixth when he made a diving catch of a line drive.
... During the game, the A's traded 2B Frank Menechino to Toronto
for future considerations. Menechino, optioned to Triple-A
Sacramento on Tuesday, hit .091 in 33 at-bats with the A's this
season. ... Harden threw balls on his first 11 pitches to Infante,
walking him twice and going 3-0 before getting him to pop out in
his third at-bat. ... Melhuse has three RBI this season, all on
solo homers. ... 2B Fernando Vina (hamstring) was a late scratch,
and was placed on the 15-day DL after the game. To replace him, the
Tigers purchased the contract of INF Jason Smith from Triple-A
Toledo. They made room for Smith on the 40-man roster by moving RHP
Lino Urdaneta (elbow) from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day
list.