Athletics 9, Orioles 4
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Barry Zito won on an empty stomach.
“It was weird. I was airy, a little bit manic,” Zito said. “I didn’t eat right. … I was just crazy. I couldn’t really focus on anything. Once I became aware I was wacked out, I tried to slow things down, like I was sleepwalking.”
Typical, eccentric Zito.
The left-hander pitched well enough to win for the third time in four starts, and the Oakland Athletics earned their ninth win in 10 games, completing a four-game sweep of the Baltimore Orioles with a 9-4 victory Thursday.
Zito said he ate a bagel before the game but just a protein shake for dinner Wednesday night. He munched on an energy bar in the middle innings. He called it “irresponsible” and said he’ll make sure to eat better before his next day start.
“We send him home early and he comes in late and still can’t get breakfast, huh?” teammate Scott Hatteberg said, smiling, as if he’d seen it before.
Erubiel Durazo hit a three-run homer and Eric Chavez also connected for the AL West-leading A’s, who have a one-game lead over idle Anaheim. Hatteberg added a three-run double for Oakland, which swept the season series 7-0.
The Orioles have lost 10 straight overall, their longest skid since ending the 2002 season with 12 losses.
“When we swept Texas we had confidence,” right fielder Jay Gibbons said, referring to a four-game series earlier this month. “Now we seemed to have lost it.”
It was a frustrating return for All-Star shortstop Miguel Tejada, who signed with the A’s at 17 out of the Dominican Republic.
Tejada went 1-for-15 in the series, getting a standing ovation after his final at-bat. He also received a lengthy ovation during the opener Monday night, but showed his frustration several times during the series.
“I’m real happy I’m leaving now,” he said. “It’s over.”
He ended an 0-for-13 stretch with a bloop single leading off the sixth, but then got thrown out at second trying to extend it to a double after shortstop Bobby Crosby lost the ball in the sun.
This was Tejada’s first trip back to Oakland to face his former team since the 2002 AL MVP signed a $72 million, six-year contract with Baltimore in the offseason.
A’s manager Ken Macha and Orioles skipper Lee Mazzilli both thought Tejada was trying too hard to play well.
“I’m not trying too hard,” Tejada said. “They just got me out. It’s not the first time I went so many at-bats without hits. They just pitched me good.”
The Orioles are done with the first stop on their season-long 13-game trip, the club’s longest since the 2000 season.
This has been an up-and-down year for Zito (10-9), who won the AL Cy Young Award two years ago. He has felt better about his recent outings, but still doesn’t look completely comfortable. He allowed four runs and four hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out four and walked four.
Durazo followed with his 20th homer. The designated hitter had his 11-game hitting streak snapped with an 0-for-5 performance Wednesday night.
With two outs in the fourth, Chavez hit an 0-1 pitch to right-center for a solo shot, his 25th.
Zito needed 48 pitches to get out of the third inning. He loaded the bases before Melvin Mora hit a two-run double. Tejada followed with an RBI grounder, and Mora came home on a wild pitch to make it 4-3. Javy Lopez walked before Zito got B.J. Surhoff to line out.
The A’s bounced back with two runs in the third, chasing Cabrera (9-7) after only 2 2-3 innings. Hatteberg had an RBI grounder and Eric Byrnes singled in a run. Cabrera allowed five runs, four hits and five walks.
Zito then settled down with a 1-2-3 fourth and fifth.
“To me, the fourth and fifth innings were as good of stuff as he’s had the last couple starts,” Macha said.
Cabrera, who lost his second straight start, was tagged for five runs on four hits, struck out two and walked five in 2 2-3 innings. He hasn’t lasted more than 3 2-3 innings in his past three outings.
“He didn’t throw well. He was up in the zone all day,” Mazzilli said. “When you walk five guys in 2 2-3 innings, you’re not pitching well. It’s not good when you lose 10 straight. You don’t like it. He was mentally sloppy today.”
Crosby went 0-for-17 vs. Baltimore this season and is hitless in 23 career at-bats against the Orioles. … Tejada was hitless in three straight games for the first time all season. He’d gone without a hit in back-to-back games six times. … The Orioles set a makeup date for a July 27 rainout against Boston. The teams will play a day-night doubleheader Oct. 2 at 1:05 p.m. and 7:05 p.m. EDT. … Zito got his 71st career win, tying John (Blue Moon) Odom for ninth in Oakland history.