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Duo hits back-to-back homers in eighth

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- While Nick Swisher grinned through a face
full of shaving cream, Bobby Crosby quietly chuckled in the corner
of the Oakland Athletics' clubhouse.

Swisher's first week in the big leagues had just been capped by
a rookie hazing. Crosby is long past those first-year rituals -- but
both rookies came through Saturday to stop the A's five-game losing
streak.

Crosby and Swisher hit back-to-back homers in the eighth inning
against Bob Howry, leading the A's to a 5-4 victory over the
Cleveland Indians.

Oakland rallied from a four-run deficit in the final three
innings to keep its AL West lead. It wouldn't have happened without
the rookies, who stepped up to fill the hero's role occupied by
Jason Giambi, Miguel Tejada and other veteran stars in Septembers
past.

"We know we can't play like this is our first year," Crosby
said. "If you're in the lineup, you've got to contribute, and it
felt great to do that today."

With another bit of their customary late-season magic and
Anaheim's 13-6 loss to Chicago, the A's moved two games up in the
West.

Scott Hatteberg had a two-run double for the A's, who appeared
headed to their longest losing skid of the season after C.C.
Sabathia held them scoreless through six innings. Travis Hafner hit
a three-run homer in the seventh, staking Cleveland to a 4-0 lead.

"To say we needed that one would be an understatement,"
manager Ken Macha said. "Being down and battling back like we did
will hopefully be a big boost for us."

Oakland put together a three-run rally in the seventh -- and with
one out in the eighth, Crosby homered to left off Howry (1-1). Five
pitches later, Swisher connected with his second homer of the
season, a drive to right.

"I was lucky to get a pitch to hit," said Swisher, who reached
base four times with a homer, a single and two walks. "It's been
awesome just to get an opportunity to play as much as I have. I'm
still nervous all the time, but it's been great."

Aside from the genes they inherited from fathers who are former
big-leaguers, Crosby and Swisher have very little in common.

Crosby, the AL Rookie of the Year favorite, has been a model of
consistency while replacing Tejada.

Swisher made it to the majors just last week, and the brash
outfielder immediately made an impression. He homered in his second
big league game, and his spectacular diving catch Friday night
immediately endeared him to Oakland fans.

"To say he's confident would be an understatement," Hatteberg
said of Swisher. "That's an asset in this game. He's got as much
as you need."

Oakland is easily the majors' best second-half team in the past
five seasons, but the A's were on their longest losing streak after
an All-Star break since 2000 -- the first year of their four
straight trips to the postseason.

Sabathia's 6 2/3 strong innings were wasted by the Indians,
whose three-game winning streak ended. Oakland beat Cleveland for
just the second time in eight meetings this season.

"They just stepped up late, so give them credit," Cleveland
manager Eric Wedge said.

Ricardo Rincon (1-0) got out of an eighth-inning jam for his
first decision in 57 appearances this season.

Octavio Dotel pitched the ninth for his 19th save in 24 chances,
with third baseman Eric Chavez making a leaping catch on Ben
Broussard's liner to end it.

Rich Harden allowed seven hits and got seven strikeouts for the
A's. The right-hander has lost just once in his last 14 starts, but
he left trailing by four runs.

Sabathia, a native of nearby Vallejo, always pitches in front of
dozens of friends and family members at the Coliseum, and they
undoubtedly were pleased.

The left-hander issued six walks but avoided trouble until the
seventh, when Swisher scored on Chavez's bases-loaded groundout and
Hatteberg followed with a two-run double.

"The seventh inning killed me -- two seeing-eye singles, and
Hatteberg hit a good pitch," Sabathia said. "I was all over the
place, but I made some good pitches when I had to. ... It's getting
easier coming in here every time, though."

Game notes
Coco Crisp stole two bases and scored Cleveland's first run
on Matt Lawton's single. ... The A's have been alone in first place
in the AL West since Aug. 5, their longest such stretch since 1992.
... A's C Damian Miller made a throwing error in the first inning --
his first error in 97 games and 1,014 chances since July 18 last
year.