<
>

Pineiro picks up win for Mariners

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Joel Pineiro had company in the dugout
between innings: a scary, seven-inch rat that stood up on its hind
legs and hissed at the Seattle Mariners.

When his teammates scattered, Pineiro stayed put -- things were
going too well to alter anything. Someone eventually bonked it with
a bat.

Mike Morse hit a tiebreaking single in the seventh and Pineiro
ended a three-start winless stretch with eight strong innings,
leading Seattle to a 3-2 victory over the slumping Oakland
Athletics on Tuesday night.

"The rat was next to me the whole time, but I didn't want to
change anything," Pineiro said. "I thought it was a dead rat, but
it started moving and guys said, 'You've got to get away.' It was a
good luck charm for us."

Or a curse for the suddenly slumping A's.

Oakland lost its fourth straight game and blew a chance to gain
ground in the standings. Oakland remained 1½ games behind the
first-place Los Angeles Angels in the AL West race and 1½ games
behind the New York Yankees in the wild-card standings. The Angels
lost at Boston and the Yankees were beaten at home by Tampa Bay.

Pineiro (6-9) won for the first time since a 4-3 victory over
Kansas City on Aug. 16, and Ichiro Suzuki had an RBI single as the
Mariners captured their first series since sweeping the Royals that
same week, Aug. 15-17, during Kansas City's club-record 19-game
losing streak.

The right-hander started the season on the disabled list after
missing the second half of 2004 with a strained right elbow, though
he says he's been comfortable on the mound all year. Manager Mike
Hargrove likes how Pineiro is going after hitters and no longer
being tentative as he was early in the year.

"I honestly believe what we're seeing is Joel getting
confidence and arm strength," Hargrove said. "We're just seeing
him get strong and believe in that strength. He had a great
changeup."

Seattle won a road series for the first time since taking all
four against the Angels from July 7-10.

Pineiro allowed six hits and two runs, retired 10 of the last 11
batters he faced, struck out five and walked one. Eddie Guardado
finished for his 31st save.

Mark Kotsay returned to the Oakland lineup after the center
fielder missed eight games with a back injury but had his share of
trouble. He singled in his first at-bat, but committed two costly
errors in the decisive seventh inning -- surprising for one of
Oakland's most reliable gloves. Richie Sexson singled leading off
the inning and went to second when Kotsay tried to pick up the ball
and dropped it.

Two batters later, Lopez singled and Kotsay rushed in on the
play and the ball got past him for a two-base error.

The grass in center field is beat up after the Oakland Raiders
played two NFL preseason games in the stadium and bleachers covered
much of the outfield.

"The field is fast," Kotsay said. "Last time I made two
errors in a game were throwing errors. I usually don't look that
bad."

The A's lost for the sixth time in seven games and again
struggled to score despite a solid start from Joe Kennedy. Oakland
was shut out 2-0 by 19-year-old phenom Felix Hernandez in the
opener of the series Monday.

Mark Ellis, one of the A's most consistent hitters recently, had
a single in the first and doubled with two outs in the fifth to
break a 1-all tie. But the A's couldn't hold the lead.

"I'm a little concerned about getting our offense going," A's
manager Ken Macha said. "That's four games in a row without
much."

Kennedy (3-2) had four strikeouts through two innings and
finished with six in 6 1-3 innings. He allowed six hits and two
earned runs and didn't walk a batter.

The lefty made this third start for the A's since coming to the
club as a reliever in a trade with Colorado on July 13 that sent
popular outfielder Eric Byrnes to the Rockies briefly before he was
traded on to Baltimore.

Kennedy beat the Orioles at Camden Yards on Aug. 27, then lost
3-0 to the Angels last Thursday.

Suzuki hit a two-out RBI single in the third and Jamal Strong
followed with a base hit, then Kennedy retired the next 10 batters
before Sexson's single.

Game notes
A's first base coach Brad Fischer coached third base in
place of Ron Washington, who left the team to visit his family in
Alabama after they fled their homes in New Orleans because of
Hurricane Katrina. Bench coach Rene Lachemann filled in at first
base. Washington will rejoin the team Friday at Texas. ... RHP Rich
Harden threw off the mound and still needs another side session
before his next start, which probably won't be this weekend after
all. He is nursing a strained muscle below his right shoulder
blade. ... Oakland C Jason Kendall got a day off. He is 1-for-15
(.067) against Pineiro.