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Using unconventional offense, A's nip O's

BALTIMORE (AP) -- The result was a familiar one for the Oakland
Athletics. How they pulled it off was anything but commonplace.

Oakland used consecutive home runs from Bobby Crosby and Mark
Ellis, the Nos. 8 and 9 batters in the lineup, to erase a three-run
deficit. Then the Athletics took the lead by scoring twice without
a hit.

It all added up to another one-run victory for the A's, 5-4 over
the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday night. It was Oakland's AL-high
19th one-run win -- including 11 of the last 12.

Oakland managed only five hits, two after the third inning. But
the A's benefited from two walks and an error by reliever Eddy
Rodriguez to go up 5-3 in the fourth, and Estaban Loaiza and the
Oakland bullpen did the rest.

"We took advantage of the throwing error by the pitcher and we
held on," Oakland manager Ken Macha said.

Kevin Millar homered for the Orioles, who failed for a fifth
time to forge a four-game winning streak. Baltimore, San Francisco
and the Chicago Cubs are the only major league teams that haven't
won four in a row.

The game turned in the fourth, when Oakland scored two unearned
runs against Rodriguez, who replaced starter Russ Ortiz in the
third after a rain delay of 1 hour, 27 minutes.

Rodriguez (0-1) walked Jay Payton and Crosby, then threw wildly
to second base after fielding a comebacker from Jason Kendall.
Payton scored on the play, and Mark Kotsay drove in Crosby with a
groundout.

"When it was all said and done, if we just make that play and
the next guy grounds out, we're out of the inning and they don't
score again," said Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo, who was ejected
in the eighth inning by home plate umpire Ted Barrett for arguing a
third-strike call on Ramon Hernandez.

Baltimore closed to 5-4 in the sixth. After Loaiza gave up a
leadoff single to Corey Patterson and struck out Millar, Brad
Halsey yielded an RBI double to Nick Markakis.

Loaiza (4-5) gave up four runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings.
Huston Street, the fourth A's reliever, worked the ninth for his
20th save, retiring Melvin Mora on a first-pitch groundout with the
potential tying run on third base.

"I don't like to swing at the first pitch," Mora said. "I
tried to hold my bat, but I couldn't and hit a groundball."

Baltimore went up 1-0 in the first inning when Jeff Conine
singled in a run with two outs, his 1,000th career RBI.

Millar made it 3-0 in the second, hitting his seventh homer
after Patterson led off with a single. It was Millar's first home
run since June 5.

Ortiz retired the first six batters but didn't get out of the
third inning. Payton hit a leadoff triple and Crosby followed with
his ninth homer, despite starting the game with a .341 slugging
percentage -- second-lowest in the AL.

"You guys probably don't know how good that felt," said
Crosby, who had gone since May 31 without a home run. "It's been
frustrating. I've been hitting the ball hard at times, but to get
one to go over, it's nice."

Three pitches later, Ellis hit his fifth homer to tie the game
at 3. Ortiz retired two of the next three batters before rain
stopped the game and ended the right-hander's third start with
Baltimore.

"I just made two stupid mistakes to those guys," said Ortiz,
who's winless since August. "I threw the ball right down the
middle of the plate."

Although Ortiz wasn't involved in the decision, his ERA swelled
to 9.00.

Game notes
The temperature at game time was announced at 100 degrees,
but the rain cooled things considerably. ... Ellis' homer was the
33rd of his career, breaking a tie with Dave Collins for the most
home runs by a major leaguer born in South Dakota. "They better
name a street after him, name something after him," Crosby said.
"What is there, like two baseball players that come from South
Dakota?" ... Baltimore fell to 13-8 in one-run games.