Athletics 3, Orioles 0

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Marco Scutaro has accepted a lesser role after starting the season as Oakland’s starting second baseman. He got a chance to contribute Wednesday night, and came up big for the Athletics.

Scutaro hit a three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, lifting the A’s to a 3-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday night.

“It’s kind of different, but whatever they want I’ll get used to it,” Scutaro said of platooning with Mark McLemore. “The only thing I control is to play hard every day. It was a great feeling, especially in the position we are in fighting for the division.”

B.J. Ryan (3-4) struck out the first two batters he faced before Damian Miller singled and Bobby Crosby, hitless in 21 career at-bats against the Orioles, walked on a full count. Scutaro then drilled a 2-1 delivery over the left-field fence for his fifth homer.

Octavio Dotel (3-1) pitched a scoreless ninth for the victory, the A’s third straight while sending the Orioles to their season-high ninth loss in a row.

A’s starter Rich Harden threw eight scoreless innings, allowing four hits with a walk and five strikeouts.

“That’s a great way to end the game, especially the way things were going,” Harden said. “It’s got to be tough for (Scutaro) to play every day and then all of a sudden to go part-time. He’s done a great job when he steps in.”

Harden and Dotel held former Athletics star Miguel Tejada hitless for a third straight game, the longest such streak of the year for Tejada.

“I know if I make a mistake he can hurt me,” Harden said. “Things were going so quick I had no time to sit and rest between innings.”

Bruce Chen, in his first big league start since last May 17, made his Orioles debut a memorable one. He took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Eric Chavez broke it up with two outs on a single to shallow center.

“I felt like I tried to do everything I could,” Chen said. “I know I’ve been with so many teams, but I’ve been pitching so good in Triple-A, I just wanted to carry that momentum.”

Chen threw seven scoreless innings, allowing three hits with four walks and three strikeouts.

“I had no idea who he was and I still really don’t,” Harden said of Chen. “I know he can pitch.”

Chen was 0-1 with a 5.11 ERA in five games with Boston last year, and started the season in the Toronto Blue Jays organization. Baltimore obtained him in a trade May 2 and he started 17 games—and relieved in five others— with Triple-A Ottawa before his contract was purchased before the game.

He set down 17 of the first 20 batters he faced before Chavez’s single. He walked Miller and Mark Kotsay in the third, but struck out Eric Byrnes to end the inning.

Scott Hatteberg singled and Erubiel Durazo walked to open the seventh. Chen got Miller to fly out to short left and caught Crosby’s infield popup. Scutaro beat out an infield single to deep short to load the bases. Kotsay drilled a 3-1 pitch that Jay Gibbons tracked down near the right-field foul pole to preserve the shutout.

“Heck yes, it’s tough,” Ryan said of allowing the game-winner. “He throws seven scoreless innings, and had a no-hitter in the sixth. He came in and did his job and I didn’t. So yeah, that makes it a little tougher.”

Harden was just as tough against the Orioles, allowing one baserunner— leadoff hitter Brian Roberts—to reach second base. He retired 17 of the last 19 hitters he faced.

After the game, the Orioles announced they released outfielder Karim Garcia and optioned outfielder Darnell McDonald to Ottawa. The Orioles also recalled outfielder Tim Raines Jr. and infielder Jose Leon.

Notes

Orioles RHP Eddy Rodriguez was optioned to Ottawa to make room for Chen. … A’s RHP Kirk Saarloos began a throwing program while he recovers from a bone spur in his right elbow. … The A’s extended their player development contract with Kane County of the Midwest League. … Orioles C Javy Lopez missed his second game with back spasms. … Orioles OF Melvin Mora has hit safely in 23 of his last 26 games. … Durazo went 0-for-3 with a walk, ending his 11-game hitting streak.

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