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Harden wins fourth straight decision

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Mark Kotsay preserved a tie with a
highlight-reel catch in center field and then immediately broke it
with a home run.

It was hard to determine which play was bigger in the Oakland
Athletics' 6-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals on Saturday, but
Kotsay had no hesitation when answering which he enjoyed more.

"The catch definitely," he said. "That saved a run and took
some momentum from their club and we fed off it as a ballclub as
well."

Kotsay had plenty of help as the A's snapped a three-game losing
streak. Damian Miller went 3-for-3 with a three-run double, Rich
Harden (7-5) won his fourth straight decision and first-place
Oakland got three perfect innings of relief.

Harden allowed one run and five hits in six innings to remain
unbeaten in seven starts since the All-Star break. After the A's
lost games started by aces Tim Hudson and Mark Mulder the previous
two days, Harden got them back on the winning track.

Harden got a big boost from his defense in the sixth inning.
With Aaron Guiel on second and one out, Ruben Mateo blooped a ball
into shallow center field.

"If anyone was going to get to that it was him," A's manager
Ken Macha said. "He's made a bunch of those plays for us this
year.

Kotsay charged and made a sliding catch and threw to second for
the double play. Guiel ran on contact and thought he had scored
when he reached home plate, only to be told Kotsay had robbed the
Royals of a run.

"I had a good beat on it," Kotsay said. "I knew it would be
close. Fortunately I got to it."

Kotsay then led off the bottom half against Brian Anderson
(2-10) with a drive into the seats in left-center for his 11th
homer this season, giving the A's a 2-1 lead.

Eric Byrnes then blooped a hustle double into center field. One
out later, Jermaine Dye reached on an error by third baseman Joe
Randa and Anderson was replaced after walking Scott Hatteberg to
load the bases.

Miller hit Scott Sullivan's first pitch off the center-field
wall to clear the bases and make it a 5-1 game. Miller is 7-for-14
with 15 RBI with the bases loaded this season and has a career
high 50 RBI overall.

"I just try to put the ball in play and have good at-bats,"
Miller said. "So far this year it's worked out well for me."

Marco Scutaro added an RBI single to close the scoring before
Jim Mecir, Justin Lehr and Octavio Dotel closed it out.

Anderson, who hadn't allowed an earned run in his previous 16
innings, gave up five runs -- four earned -- and five hits in 5 1-3
innings.

"I don't have much to say," said Anderson, who lost nine
straight starts at one point this season. "More than anything, I
couldn't make good pitches when I had to. I got to the sixth and I
gave up the homer."

The A's broke on top in the second on an RBI double by Erubiel
Durazo but the Royals tied it the next inning on John Buck's
run-scoring single.

But the Royals weren't able to muster anything else off Harden,
despite drawing four walks off the right-hander.

"He's a good pitcher, but strangely he wasn't on his game and
that made him more effective," Kansas City DH Ken Harvey said.
"He was throwing 97 miles per hour. It's hard to say that a
pitcher not being effective and not being really sharp is better
than when he is but in the case of Harden it's true."

Game notes
The A's had three runners thrown out on the bases. Durazo
was caught trying to stretch a triple in the second inning, Miller
was picked off first with runners on first and second to end the
fourth and Scutaro was caught stretching for a double to end the
sixth. ... Kansas City is 1-7 vs. Oakland this season and 4-22 over
the last three years. ... A's rookie SS Bobby Crosby is in a
3-for-31 slump. ... The Royals dropped to 15-41 on the road this
season.