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A's get best of West showdown

©Associated Press
September 20, 2002

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Terrence Long hit a tiebreaking, two-run homer in the sixth inning to lead the A's past the Angels 5-3 Thursday as Oakland broke a tie for first in the West.

The A's, who won the season series 11-9, reduced their magic number for clinching the division to eight. If the teams tie for first Oakland wins the division based on head-to-head record. The Angels, who lead the wild-card race by 61/2 games, would have held the tiebreaker if they won.

Is Oakland manager Art Howe going to miss these stressful showdowns with Anaheim?

"Do you miss a toothache?" he said.

Tim Hudson allowed three runs in 71/3 innings to win his eighth straight decision.

Long drove a 1-and-1 pitch from reliever Brendan Donnelly into the bleachers in right-centerfield in the sixth, scoring David Justice, who singled with one out off Kevin Appier.

"I haven't had much luck lately," said Long, who entered batting .237. "I was rushing the ball and swinging at a lot of pitches out of the zone. That has cost me a lot this year. But that's done and I'm trying to build for the playoffs."

For two teams with a history of playing close games, there was sure to be some drama left for their final meeting of the season; 13 of the final 17 games between the teams this season were decided by one or two runs.

Ramon Hernandez drove in two runs for the A's a day after sitting out to rest a sore wrist and Billy Koch worked the ninth for his 41st save in 47 chances.

Anaheim scored twice in the sixth off Hudson to tie the score at 3. Darin Erstad led off with a double and Garret Anderson walked with one out. Scott Spiezio then singled to score Erstad and Brad Fullmer drove in Anderson with a sacrifice fly.

"I knew our teams match up well, and these games could have gone either way," Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia said. "We've just played them eight games and we played them as evenly as you can play a team."

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