Ellis, Cust homer as A's win big
Behind Haren, Oakland delays Cleveland clinch party
CLEVELAND -- In anticipation of a celebration, there was a festive atmosphere at Jacobs Field on Saturday night.Oddly enough, it worked to the A's advantage. Thanks to a variety of sources, Oakland broke its five-game losing streak with a 9-3 win over Cleveland. The sellout crowd was ready to see the Indians clinch the American League Central title, but the A's had other ideas. Dan Haren (15-8) won for the first time since Aug. 21 by holding the Indians to two runs in six innings, setting a career high for wins in a season. His only mistake came on Grady Sizemore's two-run homer in the fifth. Haren allowed seven hits, struck out six and walked one. "It was a really nice atmosphere," Haren said. "It was a sellout. Obviously, these games mean a lot to Cleveland, but they mean a lot to us, too." Mark Ellis drove in three runs with a solo homer in the fourth and a two-run double in the fifth, giving him 76 RBIs, an Oakland franchise record for a second baseman. "We've been pretty far back for a while," he said. "It was good to be here and play in front of this kind of crowd." Nick Swisher, who returned from a three-game suspension, had an RBI single in the fifth and a run-scoring double in the sixth. Jack Cust continued to hammer Cleveland pitching with a two-run homer in the sixth while Jack Hannahan added a two-run double in the second. Haren has struggled in September. The right-hander was 0-3 in his four starts this month, allowing 17 earned runs and 45 hits in 25 1/3 innings. "I've been struggling to pick up a win," he said. "There are times in a season every pitcher goes through something like this. I've had my struggles the last month." "Dan gave us a very strong outing," manager Bob Geren said. "He was solid all the way around." Haren caught his spikes in the dirt of the mound while throwing a wild pitch during Kelly Shoppach's at-bat in the second inning, causing him to fall to the ground. As Haren limped around the mound, Geren and trainer Larry Davis came out to check on him. Haren threw a couple of warmup pitches and stayed in the game. The A's got a break and then took advantage of it in the second against Indians starter Paul Byrd. The first two hitters went quietly before Ellis hit a routine popup between the mound and the third-base line. However, the ball fell in as Byrd, third baseman Casey Blake and catcher Shoppach looked at each other. Shoppach made a late lunge for the ball, but it fell in. "It was the best hit I've ever had in my life," Ellis joked. "It went 20 feet. I didn't know what happened. I was running to first." The A's quickly capitalized. Marco Scutaro singled and Hannahan followed with his double to right-center. Ellis, who was 3-for-4, hit his 18th homer in the fourth. "I hit that ball a little bit better," he said. "It was 0-2, and I think he was trying to come inside. I was able to keep it fair." The A's finished off Byrd in the fifth. Daric Barton doubled with one out and scored on Swisher's double. Cust singled and Johnson walked to end Byrd's night. Ellis followed with a two-run double off Tom Mastny. Shannon Stewart singled with one out in the sixth before Swisher doubled him in. Cust followed with a homer to center, his seventh against the Indians this season. That total ties the Athletics franchise record for home runs in a season against Cleveland. Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire each hit seven homers against the Indians in 1990 while Bob Cerv did the same in 1958 when the A's played in Kansas City. Cust has 21 RBIs and is batting .417 (15-for-36) against Cleveland in 2007. Geren was happy to be talking about a winning effort. "It's been a while since we had a victory," he said. "It was big for us to get one."
Steve Herrick is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.