Athletics 10, Orioles 3

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BALTIMORE (AP)—The Oakland Athletics had just moved into first place in the AL West, and the reaction in the clubhouse was a collective yawn.

“It’s not important at all. It’s really insignificant,” third baseman Eric Chavez said Sunday after Oakland rolled to its fifth straight victory, a 10-3 rout of the Baltimore Orioles.

Dan Haren pitched seven innings of three-hit ball, and the Athletics hit three home runs in reaching double figures in scoring for a second straight game.

That, more than the fact that Oakland moved ahead of the Los Angeles Angels in the standings, was what mattered most to the charging A’s.

“Just a week ago we couldn’t find a hit,” said Chavez, referring to a stretch in which Oakland lost seven of eight, including three straight to Baltimore. “Hitting is really going to dictate how well we do the next month.”

Scott Hatteberg, Marco Scutaro and Mark Ellis homered to help the A’s pass the Angels, who lost to Tampa Bay 2-1.

“I already told you I’m not riding the roller coaster,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said.

Oakland, which has outscored the Orioles 26-7 in the first three games of the series, will seek its first four-game sweep in Baltimore on Monday.

Haren (11-10) struck out three, walked one and hit a batter. The right-hander had lost his last three starts, in part because Oakland totaled only one run while he was pitching.

“I was getting great run support for two or three months straight, then I think the whole team ran into a little funk,” Haren said. “Hopefully that was our little hiccup this year and we’re back in it.”

Melvin Mora homered twice and David Newhan also connected for the Orioles, who have lost eight of nine to fall a season-high seven games under .500 (61-68). Baltimore issued a season-high 11 walks, made its sixth error in three games and continued its struggle to score, but interim manager Sam Perlozzo decided against gathering the team for a stern lecture.

“If I had thought going in there and yelling at these guys would make them get a hit, I wouldn’t be able to talk to you right now,” he said. “These guys are not stupid. They’re trying. They’re putting pressure on themselves, but they’ve got to get over it.

“What would I yell at them for? For not getting a hit? They’re trying. When they quit trying, when they get lazy, I’ll yell at them.”

The A’s led 3-2 before pulling away with a six-run seventh in which the Orioles issued five walks, hit a batter and committed a passed ball. Oakland got only two hits in the inning, one of which left the infield.

After Jay Payton hit a leadoff single off Jorge Julio, two walks loaded the bases. Tim Byrdak came in and walked Hatteberg to force in a run, then hit Nick Swisher with a pitch before a passed ball by Javy Lopez allowed another run to score.

Pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty followed with an infield hit to third that scored Hatteberg, and another run came in on the play when Mora threw wildly to first. Payton completed the scoring with a sacrifice fly.

“We took advantage of some wildness in that one inning,” Macha said. “It kind of opened up the game a lot.”

Afterward, Perlozzo said Byrdak was pitching with a sore shoulder and would probably be rested for several days.

Ellis homered in the eighth to make it 10-2.

Hatteberg snapped a 2-for-27 skid with a solo shot off rookie John Maine (1-1) in the first inning and Scutaro led off the third with his fifth home run. Dan Johnson drew a bases-loaded walk in the fifth for a 3-0 lead.

“They did a good job taking pitches,” said Maine, who walked three. “That’s the most patient team I’ve seen in professional baseball.”

Haren held Baltimore hitless until Jay Gibbons doubled with two outs in the fifth. In the sixth, the Orioles closed to 3-2 when Newhan hit a one-out homer and Mora connected with two outs.

Mora also homered leading off the ninth, his 19th. He has three homers in his last two games after going 35 games without one.

Notes

The Orioles placed OF Sammy Sosa (toe) on the 15-day disabled list and recalled 1B Alejandro Freire from Triple-A Ottawa. … Haren has yielded 15 HRs in his last 13 starts after allowing eight in his first 15 starts. … Kendall was hit by Maine’s pitch in the fifth, giving him 192 HBPs, tied with Minnie Minoso for 8th place on the major league’s career list. … Baltimore starters have a 7.24 ERA in the series.

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