Zito tosses near no-hitter, earns career win No. 100

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) -- Of course Barry Zito was thinking about
a no-hitter. And that was too bad for him.

"That's the worst thing you can do because you then start to
try to protect it," he said.

The Oakland lefty took his no-hit bid into the eighth inning
before Mark DeRosa led off with a single, and earned his 100th
career victory as the Athletics beat the Texas Rangers 9-3 Friday

"Kind of a spoiler at the end," Zito said. "It's kind of
frustrating. Not so much about the no-hitter, but to give up runs
late. But we had a good lead, and the team won."

DeRosa hit a clean single to center field on a fastball away
that Zito left up a bit. Zito (14-8) was trying to pitch the
majors' first no-hitter since Randy Johnson threw a perfect game
for Arizona at Atlanta on May 18, 2004.

"Tonight was all about Zito. That's the best I've ever seen
him," DeRosa said. "He threw strikes with all his pitches."

The Rangers dropped a season-high eight games behind the AL
West-leading Athletics.

Zito left after giving up his second hit, Carlos Lee's two-run
triple with one out in the ninth. Lee later scored on a groundout.

"It puts a little tarnish on it," said manager Ken Macha,
still calling it one of the best games Zito has ever pitched.

Macha has been on Oakland's bench as a manager or coach for all
of Zito's 216 major league starts (100-61) since 2000.

"Hands down, the best game Barry's pitched all year," Macha
said. "That ranks pretty high."

The subject of trade rumors earlier this season, the 2002 Cy
Young winner struck out two and walked two. He threw 69 of his 114
pitches for strikes.

Zito, the last of Oakland's Big 3 that included Mark Mulder and
Tim Hudson, became the fourth Oakland pitcher with 100 victories,
joining Catfish Hunter (131), Vida Blue (124) and Dave Stewart

Zito improved to 17-4 lifetime against the Rangers, the most
victories he's gotten against any opponent. That includes 11-1 on
the road, and made up for his home start against the Rangers
earlier this month when he allowed six runs and 11 hits in five
innings of a 14-0 loss.

"I had a pretty bad game against them, I wanted to come out a
different guy," Zito said.

DeRosa, who entered the game in a 4-for-31 slump, drew a one-out
walk and stole second base in the second inning. That was the only
time a Texas runner got past first base until the ninth.

After the walk, Zito retired the next 17 batters until DeRosa
led off the eighth.

Rookie Edinson Volquez (1-3) allowed three runs and seven hits
over four innings. The A's broke it open by scoring six times in
the ninth, with Nick Swisher hitting a three-run double and Milton
Bradley adding a two-run double.

The closest the Rangers came to a hit before DeRosa's was
Michael Young leading off the seventh.

Young hit a slow roller that passed Zito coming off the mound.
Second baseman Mark Ellis made a barehanded scoop and threw in one
motion to beat Young by a step at first base.

"I don't remember him making any mistakes to me. He worked in
and out and had command of all his pitches," Young said. "I was
behind 0-1, 0-2 all night and always had to battle back. This was
equal to as good as I've seen him. And he's had some good games
against us."

Ellis had a leadoff double in the third inning and scored on
Mark Kotsay's grounder. The Athletics made it 3-0 in the fourth on
a bases-loaded walk to Ellis and an RBI single by Jason Kendall.

All-Star shortstop Young and rookie second baseman Ian Kinsler
started three double plays for Texas. Young made a nice stab and
relay in the second inning, and Kinsler duplicated the feat an
inning later.

Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira made an over-the-shoulder
catch of Frank Thomas' popup in foul territory with two on in the

Game notes
Kendall has multiple hits in four straight games, and 10 of
13. ... Lee hit his first triple since Aug. 10, 2003. ... Only one
of the three runs against Zito was earned because of his throwing
error in the ninth inning. On Young's comebacker with one out,
Zito's bad throw to second drew shortstop Marco Scutaro off the
bag. Lee then tripled.