Tampa Bay (59-70) at Oakland (76-53)

Fair Currently: Oakland, CA
Temp: 54° F
  • Game info: 4:05 pm EDT Sun Aug 29, 2004
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Mark Mulder does not think his mechanics are as strong as they were earlier this season. It has not made much of a difference in the win column.

Mulder will try to become the majors’ first 18-game winner when the Oakland Athletics try for a three-game sweep of the visiting Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

The 27-year-old left-hander, one of the leading candidates for the AL Cy Young Award, is 4-1 with a 4.40 ERA over his past six starts. After pitching five complete games in the season’s first four months, he has gone five starts without one.

“My mechanics are a little off right now and I don’t feel great out there,” he said. “I’m battling. Things are going to click soon.”

Mulder allowed two runs and four hits over six innings Tuesday in a 6-2 win over Baltimore.

“He’s been out of whack the last couple starts,” Oakland catcher Damian Miller said. “He’d be good one inning and then not so good the next. But the bottom line is he made enough good pitches to get through six innings and got the win.”

Mulder will try to regain his early season form and guide the A’s to their seventh straight win.

On Saturday, Tim Hudson won his third straight start, and Eric Chavez homered for the third consecutive game to lead the A’s to a 5-4 win.

Eric Byrnes added a two-run homer for Oakland, which overcame three errors a day after rallying from a four-run deficit to win 8-7. Oakland also extended its AL West lead to two games over Anaheim after the Angels lost 7-1 at home to Minnesota.

Tampa Bay will counter Mulder with rookie phenom Scott Kazmir. The 20-year-old left-hander was impressive in his major league debut Monday, allowing just four hits over five innings in a 9-0 win over Seattle.

“Man, this is a dream come true, it really is,” Kazmir said after being drenched with champagne by his teammates in the clubhouse. “I was really nervous. I was looking at the crowd and everything.”

The Devil Rays had won four straight before dropping their last two.

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Starting Pitchers

S. Kazmir Oak vs. M. Mulder LAA
2-3 Record 17-8
5.67 ERA 4.43
41 K 140
21 BB 83
1.62 WHIP 1.36