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O's score five runs in wild seventh inning

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- The way Sammy Sosa has been struggling at
the plate, how far he hit the ball and where it went mattered
little to the Baltimore slugger.

Sosa's 25-foot RBI single highlighted a wild rally, and the
Orioles ended Barry Zito's eight-game winning streak with a 6-2
victory over the Oakland Athletics on Monday night.

"A hit is a hit," Sosa said with a smile, adding that he'll
take that "any time."

The Orioles came back with five runs in the seventh inning
thanks to several misplays by the A's, including two hit batsmen,
two bases-loaded walks and a throwing error by shortstop Bobby
Crosby.

Rodrigo Lopez (12-6) pitched 6 2-3 strong innings to win his
third straight decision despite trailing for most of the night.
Luis Matos added an RBI double in the ninth for Baltimore, which
began a six-game road trip.

Crosby ended a 35-game homerless streak with a solo shot in the
first inning for Oakland, but he also made a costly error as the
sloppy A's lost back-to-back games for the first time since July
6-7 at Toronto.

"That's something we haven't done in the last two months," A's
manager Ken Macha said. "Hopefully, it's just a blip on the radar
screen."

Zito (11-9) cruised through the first six innings, retiring 17
of his first 19 hitters, but fell apart in the seventh on the way
to his first defeat since a 6-1 loss June 17 against Philadelphia.

With the Orioles trailing 2-0, Chris Gomez doubled to start the
inning. Melvin Mora popped out, then Miguel Tejada reached on an
infield single and Javy Lopez was hit by a pitch, loading the
bases.

After pitching coach Curt Young visited the mound, Sosa chopped
his short dribbler and Zito stumbled as he tried to field it along
the third-base line. The lefty walked Alejandro Freire to bring in
the tying run moments later.

"Basically, I had to grab it and side flip it," Zito said. "I
was trying to grab it with two hands and stop my momentum. In
retrospect, I should have taken my glove off and used my right
hand. Plays didn't go our way."

Jay Gibbons then drove in a run on a routine grounder that
Crosby threw wildly past second baseman Marco Scutaro while trying
to start a double play. Two runs scored on the play.

The Orioles figured it was about time a few breaks went their
way.

"It's got to happen," said Sosa, whose infield single snapped
an 0-for-17 slump and was his second hit in 28 at-bats. "We've
been scuffling a little bit. When you come here and play against a
team that's playing good baseball and fight for it and win, it's a
good feeling."

Crosby hit a solo shot into the left-field seats with two outs
in the first inning for his first home run since an inside-the-park
homer July 5 at Toronto, a stretch of 141 at-bats.

After Crosby's homer, Rodrigo Lopez loaded the bases with
back-to-back singles to Eric Chavez and Dan Johnson and a walk to
Jay Payton. But Lopez got Scott Hatteberg to line out to center,
the first of 11 straight outs before Scutaro singled in the fifth.

Lopez allowed two runs and six hits, struck out three and walked
two. Earlier in the day, he read up on Zito and knew he had a tough
task. Lopez was determined to keep things close until his team
could score a few runs.

"Every day, we've got something to prove to ourselves," he
said. "We're going to have a lot of series against guys who are in
the wild card. I think we can still play hard and see where we are
in the end."

Crosby, who came into the game with only one hit in 25 career
at-bats against Baltimore, led off the sixth with a double. Chavez
then singled him home.

Eric Byrnes received a warm ovation in his return to his native
Bay Area just more than a month after the A's traded the popular
outfielder. He finished 0-for-5.

Byrnes became a fan favorite in Oakland for his no-fear style of
play in the outfield, which frequently featured crazy crashes into
the wall to make clutch catches. In the very spot along the
left-field fence where Byrnes banners used to be a mainstay, a sign
reading "Byrnes Bleacher Creatures" hung from the railing to
welcome him back.

He made an athletic catch to rob Mark Kotsay of a hit in the
fifth, diving and sliding on his stomach to make the play. Byrnes
sprinted into the visitors' dugout, ball still in hand. In the next
inning, he struck out for the second time against Zito.

Game notes
Orioles slugger Rafael Palmeiro believes he "soon" will
be able to explain himself and tell people why he tested positive
for steroids. "My day will come when I can say what happened. As
of right now, I can't say anything. Hopefully soon," Palmeiro said
Monday, a day after returning to the lineup following a 10-game
suspension for violating baseball's steroid policy. He wasn't in
the lineup. ... Crosby's previous hit against the Orioles came on
opening day this year. ... A's reliever Ricardo Rincon allowed his
first career run to Baltimore, snapping a streak of 20 games and 14
scoreless innings.