Series: Game 2 of 4

Oakland leads 2-0 (as of 8/24)

Game 1: Monday, August 23
Game 2: Tuesday, August 24
Game 3: Wednesday, August 25
Game 4: Thursday, August 26

Orioles 2

(57-67, 28-32 away)

Athletics 6

(72-53, 40-19 home)

10:05 PM ET, August 24, 2004 Coliseum, Oakland, California 

123456789 R H E
BAL 010010000 2 5 1
OAK 40110000 - 6 9 0

W: M. Mulder (18-4)

L: S. Ponson (8-13)

Oakland stays ahead of Anaheim in West

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- It's been five starts and nearly a month since Mark Mulder's last complete game.

With the way the Oakland ace is pitching this year, it's become expected of him to go deep into the game every outing.

Mulder became the majors' first 17-game winner without his best stuff and lasting only six innings, and the Athletics moved a season-best 19 games over .500 with a 6-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night.

Mark Mulder

"My mechanics are a little off right now and I don't feel great out there," he said. "I'm battling. Things are going to click soon."

Not that his opponents will have much sympathy.

There's certainly something working for the All-Star left-hander. This time, it was his offense, which staked him to a four-run lead in the first inning.

Eric Chavez and Jermaine Dye both homered for the A's, who won for the eighth time in 10 games to maintain their half-game lead over Anaheim in the AL West race. The Angels beat Kansas City 7-5.

Everyone around the A's -- the two-time defending division champions -- is prepared for a tight West race through September.

"It's going down to the end," manager Ken Macha said. "Once we start playing in the division and they're playing in the division, it's going to get interesting."

Said first baseman Scott Hatteberg: "It's going to be a real hairy September."

Mulder (17-4) also got a big boost from his bullpen after telling Macha following the sixth that it would be best to get him out of the game to avoid another jam. Chris Hammond, Chad Bradford, Arthur Rhodes and Jim Mecir allowed just one hit in three innings of relief.

The Orioles lost their eighth straight, scoring in the second on Darnell McDonald's RBI groundout and in the fifth on a double by Melvin Mora. They're on a season-high 13-game road trip -- the club's longest stretch away from home since the 2000 season.

Sidney Ponson (8-13) struggled against the A's lineup for the second straight start, allowing four runs on four hits in the first inning.

"I couldn't hit the corners in the first," he said. "The way they are playing you just can't pitch like that. I was trying to get everyone out on the first pitch in the first inning."

Macha batted Erubiel Durazo in the cleanup spot against Ponson after the designated hitter homered twice off the right-hander -- and three times in all -- last Wednesday. Dye has been in the No. 4 hole most of the year.

Durazo hit an RBI single in the first to extend his hitting streak to 11 games, matching his season high. The hit led to a two-base error by right fielder Jay Gibbons, who overthrew third trying to get Chavez and the ball rolled into the A's dugout. Mark Kotsay scored on Durazo's hit and Chavez came home on the error, which got Durazo to third.

Dye followed with a two-run homer, sending an 0-2 pitch over the wall in left. He missed three games over the weekend at Tampa Bay with a strained left thumb, but has bounced back well. Dye also hit a tying two-run single in the sixth inning of Monday's 4-3 win.

Chavez hit a solo homer to right with one out in the third for his 24th this year.

Mulder, the winning pitcher for the AL in the All-Star game, beat Baltimore 5-4 last Wednesday at Camden Yards.

On Tuesday, the left-hander allowed two runs and four hits in six innings, struck out two and walked three.

All his walks were in the first three innings. Mulder's only 1-2-3 inning was the fourth -- he got through it in six pitches. After David Newhan singled to center with no outs in the third, Mulder retired the next eight before plunking Newhan in the fifth.

Two batters later, Mulder hit Miguel Tejada with a pitch on the back of his left knee. Mulder said he didn't mean to hit his former teammate.

"I was surprised, but I don't think it was on purpose," Tejada said.

Tejada received another warm welcome. This is his first trip back to Oakland since signing a $72 million, six-year contract with the Orioles in December. The 2002 AL MVP received a lengthy ovation Monday night.

He's 0-for-7 so far in the four-game series. He shouted in frustration after grounding out in the seventh.

Gibbons doubled in the sixth to end an 0-for-19 slump. He'd been hitless in his last five games and is just 4-for-36 (.111) in 11 games since being activated from the disabled list Aug. 10.

Ponson was tagged for six runs on nine hits in six innings. He struck out four and walked three.

Game notes

Orioles C Javy Lopez was a late scratch because of back spasms. Robert Machado started in his place. ... Kotsay returned to the lineup after missing Monday's game with the flu. ... The Orioles will purchase the contract of LHP Bruce Chen from Triple-A Ottawa to start Wednesday -- his season debut. The team hadn't announced the corresponding roster move. ... Tejada played in his 718th straight game, passing Ernie Banks for the 14th-longest streak in major league history.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press