Mulder's win streak a career best

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Bobby Crosby has become a viable rookie
of the year candidate in a matter of a month.

Crosby hit a go-ahead two-run single in the seventh to help Mark
Mulder win his eighth straight decision, and the Oakland Athletics
beat the Anaheim Angels 5-4 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, batting .327 with seven homers and 20 RBI over his last
44 games and leading numerous rookie offensive categories, singled
to the corner in left against Francisco Rodriguez to save Mulder
(10-2), whose current win streak is a career-best.

Rodriguez put his face into his glove and yelled as he walked
off the mound, then tossed his mitt hard into the ground as he
reached the top of the dugout steps. He followed that by smacking
the bench with the palm of his hand when he sat down.

Crosby has made huge strides recently. Two months ago, he said,
he would have missed the slider Rodriguez threw to him.

On May 8, the 24-year-old shortstop dropped a soft fly to
shallow left field in the 10th inning against Minnesota, costing
the A's the game. He also grounded into a double play and finished
the day batting .183.

"It's been up and down," said Crosby, notoriously a slow
starter at the plate. "At this point, the highs are starting to
outweigh the lows. ... After the first month and a half, I knew I
had been through it before. There's a point where panic sets in,
but at the same time I knew I would come around."

Then on May 22, he hit a game-winning infield single in the 11th
inning of a win over the Royals.

"His progress since the beginning of the year has been
tremendous," manager Ken Macha said. "I can't say enough good
things about him."

Justin Lehr pitched a 1-2-3 eighth and Octavio Dotel worked a
perfect ninth for his first save in two opportunities with his new
team. He was acquired last Thursday from Houston in a three-team
trade, then blew a save in his A's debut Saturday before coming
back to earn the victory.

"I'm that kind of guy when I'm not doing good I want to get
back out there the next day," Dotel said. "It's real nice."

Oakland loaded the bases against Brendan Donnelly (1-1) in the
seventh after Mark McLemore's one-out double, a walk to Scott
Hatteberg and a single by Jermaine Dye. Rodriguez relieved and got
Erubiel Durazo to strike out before Crosby's big hit.

Mulder, who pitched a complete-game four-hitter in a 2-1 win
over the Angels last Thursday, is unbeaten in 11 starts since April
28 loss at Yankee Stadium. He allowed nine hits and four runs,
struck out eight and walked three in seven innings -- barely
outpitching Angels starter Kelvim Escobar.

"I'm proud of the way I pitched tonight," Mulder said. "I
didn't have my best stuff and I kept the team in it."

It was a duel between two pitchers whose managers both believe
their guy is worthy of playing in next month's All-Star game in

Manager Mike Scioscia said Escobar has been the club's best
starter recently and would be a strong candidate for the All-Star
game if he had more run support and a better record.

The right-hander lost to the A's 7-1 last Wednesday, allowing
six hits and three earned runs in six innings. He hasn't won since
beating Cleveland 5-2 on June 3. He allowed three earned runs on
seven hits in six innings, struck out five and walked four.

"We had the upper hand against a pretty good pitcher tonight,
but we just couldn't close the door," Scioscia said.

Anaheim's Jose Guillen doubled twice, drove in a run and threw
out Mark Kotsay at the plate for what would've been the go-ahead
run in the fifth.

Tim Salmon gave the Angels a 4-3 lead in the sixth on an RBI
fielder's choice.

The teams split a four-game series in Anaheim last week. The
Angels swept a three-game series here April 23-25 and lead the
season series between the division rivals 6-5.

The A's took a 3-1 lead in the second on four hits, including
Kotsay's two-run single to center. Anaheim tied it at 3 in the
fourth on consecutive two-out RBI hits by Garret Anderson and

In the fifth, Guillen threw out Kotsay at home from left field
to keep the A's from going ahead.

Both teams are struggling with injuries. The A's have five
players on the disabled list, while the Angels have three.<

The teams, considered the front-runners to win the division,
don't play again until Sept. 24-26.

Game notes
Guillen is batting .600 (6-for-10) lifetime against Mulder.
... Oakland's Eric Byrnes broke an 0-for-16 drought with a
sixth-inning double. ... Kotsay extended his hitting streak to
eight games with a second-inning single. ... A's RHP Rich Harden
will miss his Thursday start after partially dislocating his
non-throwing shoulder Saturday. ... Mulder won seven straight three
times previously.