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Athletics complete sweep of sagging Rockies

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Mark Mulder was the latest pitcher to
make the Colorado Rockies long for thinner air.

Mulder allowed seven hits in seven innings to win his third
straight start, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Rockies 3-2
Tuesday for a three-game sweep.

The Rockies hit .200 in the series and lost for the 21st time in
25 games despite a strong start from Pedro Astacio (6-11), who
threw an eight-hitter but allowed three runs on four singles in the
fourth inning.

Colorado is 2-13 away from hitter-friendly Coors Field during
its monthlong losing skid, but that can't fully explain the
ineffectiveness of the Rockies' once-mighty offense.

"We can't seem to get a hit when we need it. It's incredible,"
manager Buddy Bell said. "Everything is magnified when you're not
scoring and not hitting. You can't start looking for luck in this
game. It doesn't work like that."

Mulder (11-6), who threw shutouts his previous two starts,
pitched Oakland to its eighth victory in nine games.

The A's won for the 14th time in 18 games and finished
interleague play 12-6, revitalizing their playoff hopes and moving
them five games above .500 (49-44) for the first time this season.

He wasn't overpowering this time, but Mulder struck out three
and likely would have kept his scoreless streak intact if not for a
fielding blunder by Billy McMillon in the fifth inning.

"I didn't have the same control as I've had, but when I got in
those jams, I made the pitches I needed," Mulder said. "I knew I
had a streak going, but that's no big deal. Every time we go out
there, we're trying to throw a shutout."

Mulder outpitched Astacio, who threw his fourth complete game of
the season. It was Astacio's 27th career complete game, but he took
his sixth loss in seven decisions.

"Their guy was good, but we got a couple of timely hits in one
good inning," Oakland manager Art Howe said. "Sometimes the line
between a 3-2 win and a 3-2 loss is very tiny. We weren't getting
these breaks earlier in the year, and they're not getting them
now."

The A's got all of their runs in the fourth, including RBI
singles by Miguel Tejada and Olmedo Saenz.

Jason Giambi also singled and scored on Colorado catcher Ben Petrick's throwing error when Tejada stole second base. Giambi, the
subject of daily trade rumors, went 1-for-4.

"I just made a couple of bad pitches," Astacio said. "One
inning cost us the game. We have to turn this around sometime. It
can't stay like this."

It has been 30 days since Colorado swept a three-game series
against Cincinnati and hoped to make the division title run its
high-priced roster expected.

Injuries, bad luck and some terrible hitting have crippled the
Rockies, who are staying in the Bay Area for two games against the
Giants.

Mulder's scoreless streak ended at 22 innings when McMillon made
an ill-advised dive at a slicing hit by Juan Pierre in the fifth.
The ball bounded past him in left field, and Cliff Brumbaugh scored
from first on Pierre's hit, which was ruled a triple.

Pierre then scored on Neifi Perez's groundout to cut Oakland's
lead to 3-2.

Colorado didn't get another runner past second until Jason Isringhausen's second wild pitch of the ninth inning allowed Larry Walker to reach third with two outs.

Isringhausen got Brent Butler to fly out for his 19th save in 25
chances.

Game notes
Walker didn't start in order to rest his sore elbow, but he
pinch-hit in the ninth. He'll play right field Wednesday against
the Giants. ... Mulder picked Greg Norton off first base in the
sixth. ... Several scouts were in town to watch Astacio, who's
rumored to be trade bait for a contending team. Los Angeles and
Minnesota are among the teams known to be interested in Astacio,
who is 2-9 since a victory May 8. ... Colorado lost all four of its
interleague series this season.