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Pitching to the rescue for A's

By Mark Bodenrader, MLB Contributing Editor

Athletics team report

(Sports Network) - The Oakland Athletics have been able to overcome a slow start and a slumping Miguel Tejada thanks to their bread and butter -- pitching.

Oakland has won its last four games and seven of its past nine to improve its overall record to 15-10.

On the year, Oakland leads the American League in ERA at 3.42. During the recent successful stretch, the pitching staff has upped its performance by allowing an average of 2.3 runs over the last nine games.

While the starting pitching has been predictably strong all year, Oakland's bullpen has impressed of late by not allowing a run over the past four games.

Closer Keith Foulke has surrendered just one earned run over his last eight appearances, while collecting four saves in five opportunities. In his only blown save on April 22, the A's still managed to rally for a 6-5 victory over the Detroit Tigers in 11 innings.

In Oakland's past two games, the bullpen held the fort and gave the offense a chance to rally for the win. On Saturday, the A's snapped a 3-3 tie in the seventh before going on to a 6-3 win over Cleveland, then Oakland claimed a 4-3 victory in its last at-bat on Sunday in the series finale.

With the score tied in the bottom of the ninth, Erubiel Durazo singled off Cleveland closer Danys Baez, who then retired the next two batters. Terrence Long, though, drilled a 2-2 pitch into the right-center field gap to score Durazo with the winning run.

Sunday's triumph for Oakland completed a three-game sweep of Cleveland.

Former Indian Ricardo Rincon (2-1) earned the victory, allowing just one hit over two scoreless innings of relief.

Rincon has been huge out of the bullpen for the A's, as evidenced by his 2.84 ERA this season. The lefthander, who gave up a walk to his only batter faced on Saturday, hasn't allowed a run over his last 9 1/3 innings of work, spanning seven outings.

"Scratch out yesterday and that's about four outings in a row where he's been excellent," Oakland manager Ken Macha said of Rincon. "He had good movement on the ball and his slider was real good. I'm glad he got the win.

"It was a great homestand. We'd like to carry some of that momentum on the road."

The A's are 12-3 in their park this season, but just 3-7 on the road, where they play their next six games.


Second baseman Mark Ellis has gone 10-for-24 (.416) over his last six games with six RBI. First baseman Scott Hatteberg has collected a hit in all but one of his last 10 games.


Tejada continues to struggle. The shortstop, who is batting just .163 this season, has only two hits in his last 18 at-bats. He has committed seven errors in 25 games as well.


The A's begin a six-game road trip on Tuesday when they open a three-game series with the Chicago White Sox. Oakland finishes the swing with a set against the Yankees in the Bronx.

04/29 16:02:26 ET

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