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A's save best for last vs. Giants
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07/03/2004  7:20 PM ET 
A's save best for last vs. Giants
Oakland scores five runs in final two innings to top SF

Jermaine Dye receives congratulations after scoring the tying run in the eighth. (George Nikitin/AP)
SAN FRANCISCO -- Mark McLemore has no problem admitting his gimpy right knee has left him less of a player than he once was.

But even a diminished McLemore was good enough Saturday to deliver the two-out RBI single in the top of the ninth that unlocked a tied game and propelled the Oakland A's to a 6-2 win over the San Francisco Giants.

A's manager Ken Macha didn't even know until an hour before the first pitch if McLemore would be healthy enough to play Saturday after being limited to just one fruitless pinch-hit at-bat in the previous two games.

But McLemore said he could take his position in the lineup, filling in at third base for the injured Eric Chavez, and after striking out with runners on the corners to end the seventh inning, he came through in the ninth.

"Once the game starts, you're good to go," McLemore said. "The situation is this: I have pain, and if I can deal with it during the game, then I'll play. But there's not going to be a point where I can go out there and be 100 percent."

Obviously a sore knee doesn't keep McLemore from swinging the bat. He went 2-for-5 with a pair of singles and in the sixth inning reached on the first of Giants second baseman Ray Durham's two errors.

   Jermaine Dye  /   RF
Born: 01/28/74
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 220 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

McLemore and the A's capitalized on that mistake as back-to-back singles from Scott Hatteberg and Jermaine Dye brought McLemore home with the A's first run.

But when McLemore got on in the ninth, Macha pulled him in favor of pinch-runner Ramon Castro. The move was a clear acknowledgement that McLemore, who turns 40 the day after the end of the regular season, no longer has the wheels that stole 39 bases just three seasons ago with Seattle.

"It kills me," McLemore said. "That's my game. To have to come out for a pinch-runner, that's tough to take."

But there's no way McLemore could have scored the way Castro did on the next play, a popup to shallow right that clanked in and out of Durham's glove -- error No. 2 for the two-homer hero of the night before.

Dye followed that with an RBI double and Bobby Crosby with a run-scoring single, and the Giants' Matt Herges (4-3) walked off the mound with the loss.

Those insurance runs loomed larger than usual, because Barry Bonds was due to lead off the bottom of the ninth. With a four-run cushion, Oakland had no problems pitching to Bonds in the ninth after walking him twice before in the game.

"Those runs were huge," said catcher Damian Miller, whose RBI double in the eighth pulled the A's even with San Francisco at 2-2. "We were up 3-2 and we knew who was leading off the next inning, so we were already talking about it."

Macha refused to divulge his plans, but with just a one-run lead in the ninth, Macha may have given Bonds free pass No. 2,190 on his career, which would have tied him with Rickey Henderson for tops on the career list in that category.

   Rich Harden  /   P
Born: 11/30/81
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 180 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: R

The two walks Bonds drew earlier in the game didn't hurt Oakland, but the other two bases on balls starter Rich Harden issued led to both Giants runs.

In the third inning, Harden started things off by walking Michael Tucker, and he came around to score when Deivi Cruz delivered a double on a hit-and-run play.

Then in the sixth, after McLemore's run had tied the game in the top half, Harden walked Durham in the bottom half, and he eventually came home on Marquis Grissom's sacrifice fly. But other than that, Harden was dominating. He gave up just two hits in six innings and struck out three, not too shabby for the right-hander last seen walking off the Network Associates Coliseum mound a week ago with a dislocated left shoulder.

Because of the injury, Harden had his start pushed back a few days, and he said the rest definitely was a factor in his ability to push the high-90s with his fastball Saturday.

"A guy's throwing that hard and he's throwing all his pitches for strikes and he's ahead in the count, he's pretty tough," said Miller.

As tough as Harden was, Giants starter Dustin Hermanson was even tougher. He went seven innings and gave up just one unearned run while striking out a career-high 11.

"He threw a great game," Harden said of his counterpart. "Everything was really quick and I didn't have a lot of time to sit around between innings, and I kind of like that. It's real easy to get in a rhythm."

The A's didn't get into their full rhythm until the bullpens for both teams showed up.

   Justin Duchscherer  /   P
Born: 11/19/77
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 190 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R

On Oakland's side, Justin Duchscherer (4-1) threw two scoreless innings to pick up the win before Ocatavio Dotel worked through the ninth in a non-save situation.

But the Giants relievers weren't so effective. Felix Rodriguez gave up the run in the eighth, and Herges got the first out in the ninth before pinch-hitter Eric Karros stroked a double to left-center.

Esteban German ran for Karros and scored on McLemore's go-ahead single.

"Today was a total team effort, just look up and down the lineup," Macha said, then proceeded to work through a list of half the men in Oakland uniforms.

With Saturday's win, Oakland's record in the three-game set with its trans-Bay rival is 1-1, and it's almost that close in the eight years of Interleague Play. The Giants hold a 22-21 edge in regular-season games between the two.

"These have been some great ballgames," Macha said. "If I lived in the Bay Area, I'd probably buy a ticket."

Tony Kuttner is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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