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Kielty smacks slam, Saarloos fans 11 as A's reduce magic No. to 6

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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OAKLAND, Calif. -- Bobby Kielty assured manager Ken Macha several days ago that his tender left hand would be fine come Tuesday to face Cleveland lefty Cliff Lee.

A shot of cortisone and Kielty was pain-free.

Kielty hit his first career grand slam, Kirk Saarloos struck out a career-high 11 and Eric Chavez and Nick Swisher also homered in the Oakland Athletics' 7-3 victory over the Indians on Tuesday night.

Kielty homered off Lee with two outs in the sixth, a drive to left that gave the AL West-leading A's a 5-2 lead. The crowd of 15,866 went wild, and Kielty emerged from the dugout for a curtain call.

He will have some offseason bragging rights when he hangs out with Lee, too. Kielty's wife, Meredith, grew up best friends in Arkansas with Lee's wife, Kristen, and the couples get together at least once during the winter.

Oakland stayed 6½ games ahead of Los Angeles in the division race after the Angels won 5-2 at Kansas City. The A's decreased their magic number to clinch the West to six.

Kielty, who aggravated his hand on a swing last week at Minnesota, hadn't been summoned back out of the dugout since it happened in back-to-back games late in the 2002 season while with Minnesota. Kielty had begun to wonder whether he would ever hit a grand slam.

"It's been on my mind quite a bit this year," he said. "I haven't had a lot of success with the bases loaded. Maybe that grand slam will help me."

Chavez hit a solo homer with two outs in the fourth, his 20th of the year and No. 210 of his career. That moved the third baseman past Al Simmons for sixth place on the A's list. Chavez, who has been dealing with tendinitis in his forearms, had been 1-for-16 in his prior five games.

Swisher hit a two-run shot in the eighth for his 32nd homer of the year.

Oakland fell behind in the first inning for the second night in a row. The A's lost Monday night's series opener 7-2 after a rocky showing from Dan Haren, ending the team's four-game winning streak.

Saarloos, pitching on six days' rest, gave up three hits but escaped the inning only down 1-0 on Kevin Kouzmanoff's RBI single. He struck out three.

"I've got it in me," the typical groundball pitcher said of striking out batters. "But it's not economical."

Saarloos threw 113 pitches.

Hector Luna singled in a run in the third to make it 2-0. Kouzmanoff singled in another run against closer Huston Street in the ninth for his third hit.

Saarloos is winless in three starts following four consecutive winning outings, including in relief Aug. 8 against Texas. When he struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the third, Saarloos had already tied his previous career best of seven.

He allowed two runs on eight hits and walked four in five innings. Chad Gaudin (2-2) pitched the sixth for the win.

Macha is counting on Esteban Loaiza working deep into the game Wednesday considering Rich Harden will make his first start since June 4 in Thursday's series finale and will be on a pitch count of about 60.

Lee (12-11) retired the first eight A's batters before Marco Scutaro's two-out single in the third. Oakland then loaded the bases after consecutive walks to Jason Kendall and Mark Ellis, but Milton Bradley grounded into a fielder's choice.

Lee hadn't started against the A's since May 27, 2004, and he lost to Oakland for the first time in four career starts. The lefty retired the side in order in the first on 11 pitches.

In the decisive sixth, Lee walked Frank Thomas with one out then allowed a single to Jay Payton before Chavez flied out. Swisher was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Kielty. The A's are 21-3 in games in which Kielty has homered over the past three seasons.

The A's had only four putouts through five innings, and the Indians stranded 10 runners during that stretch.

"I don't think anybody should be striking out 17 times," Cleveland manager Eric Wedge said. "That's us not making adjustments, not sticking our nose in there with two strikes."

Notes

  • Saarloos had five strikeouts against the Indians on May 4, his previous season best.
  • Choo struck out in his first three at-bats.
  • Chavez reached 20 home runs for the seventh season in a row.
  • Grady Sizemore played DH for Cleveland instead of CF to give him a little time off his feet after so many games in the outfield. "He probably won't know what to do with himself," manager Eric Wedge said. Franklin Gutierrez started in center.
  • A's CF Mark Kotsay, who has been playing with back spasms in recent weeks, had the night off to rest and was expected to play again Wednesday. Payton moved to CF to start in his place and Kielty played LF in just his third start in 14 games.
 
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Kirk Saarloos strikes out a career-high 11 as the Athletics trim their magic number to six.  (AP)
Kirk Saarloos strikes out a career-high 11 as the Athletics trim their magic number to six. (AP)

Players of the Game
Oakland

B. Kielty
AB 4
R 1
H 1
HR 1
RBI 4
Cleveland

K. Kouzmanoff
AB 4
R 0
H 3
HR 0
RBI 2
 
Cleveland Indians
Grady Sizemore, DH4010120 .291
Jason Michaels, LF5110010 .268
Casey Blake, 1B5220033 .290
Victor Martinez, C4030110 .315
Kevin Kouzmanoff, 3B4032112 .282
Hector Luna, 2B5021024 .289
Shin-Soo Choo, RF4000149 .267
Jhonny Peralta, SS3000122 .252
   a- Joe Inglett, PH1000002 .256
Franklin Gutierrez, CF4010013 .278
Totals39313351725 
a-flied out for Peralta in the 9th
Batting
2B - Jason Michaels (31, Saarloos), Kevin Kouzmanoff (2, Calero)
RBI - Kevin Kouzmanoff 2 (10), Hector Luna (36)
2-OUT RBI - Kevin Kouzmanoff (9), Hector Luna (15)
Team LOB - 14
Cleveland Indians
Cliff Lee (L,12-11) 5.2455522 4.58
Fernando Cabrera 0.1000000 4.92
Jason Davis 1100100 4.01
Rafael Perez 1122101 5.06
IBB - Thomas by Jason Davis
HBP - Swisher (by Cliff Lee)
WP - Cliff Lee (3)
Pitches-Strikes - Cliff Lee 105-56, Fernando Cabrera 3-1, Jason Davis 13-5, Rafael Perez 17-9
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Cliff Lee 3-12, Jason Davis 1-2, Rafael Perez 2-1
Batters Faced - Cliff Lee 27, Jason Davis 5, Rafael Perez 5
Oakland Athletics
Jason Kendall, C4010101 .294
Mark Ellis, 2B3000101 .245
Milton Bradley, RF4000013 .275
Frank Thomas, DH2100210 .279
Jay Payton, CF4110002 .300
Eric Chavez, 3B3211101 .240
Nick Swisher, 1B2212100 .253
Bobby Kielty, LF4114001 .272
Marco Scutaro, SS3010100 .252
Totals29767729 
Batting
HR - Eric Chavez (20, Lee), Nick Swisher (32, R. Perez), Bobby Kielty (8, Lee)
RBI - Eric Chavez (68), Nick Swisher 2 (88), Bobby Kielty 4 (34)
2-OUT RBI - Eric Chavez (19), Bobby Kielty 4 (14)
CS - Marco Scutaro (1, 2nd base by Cabrera/Martinez)
Team LOB - 6
Fielding
DP - Swisher-Gaudin
Oakland Athletics
Kirk Saarloos 58224110 4.65
Chad Gaudin (W,2-2) 1100010 2.62
Kiko Calero (H,23) 0.2100120 3.38
Justin Duchscherer (H,15) 1.1000020 3.04
Brad Halsey0211000 4.72
Huston Street 1100010 2.92
IBB - Martinez by Kirk Saarloos
Pitches-Strikes - Kirk Saarloos 113-69, Chad Gaudin 15-9, Kiko Calero 21-13, Justin Duchscherer 14-11, Brad Halsey 6-4, Huston Street 11-8
Ground Balls-Fly Balls - Kirk Saarloos 1-3, Justin Duchscherer 1-1, Huston Street 1-1
Batters Faced - Kirk Saarloos 27, Chad Gaudin 3, Kiko Calero 4, Justin Duchscherer 4, Brad Halsey 2, Huston Street 4
Game Information
Attendance - 15866
Game Time - 2:56
Temperature - 66
Umpires - Home - Bruce Froemming, First Base - Paul Emmel, Second Base - Brian Runge, Third Base - Mike Winters