Kendall's rare productive game sparks A's winSep 21, 2006 - 10:58 PM OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- Unexpectedly, Jason Kendall delivered at the plate to help the Oakland Athletics inch closer to a postseason berth.
Kendall drove in a season-high four runs as the Athletics beat the Cleveland Indians, 7-4, to win their four-game series.
Kendall, who had just three RBI this month and 40 all season, delivered a two-run single in the fourth inning against C.C. Sabathia (11-11) and chased the 6-7 lefthander with another two frames later.
"I just found some holes, and the bottom line is that it was a good win," Kendall said. "Everybody contributes on this team, that's what I think makes this team special."
Sabathia was rocked for seven runs - four earned - and seven hits in 5 1/3 innings for the Indians, who dropped the final three games of the set.
Sabathia was his own worst enemy in the fourth, throwing a potential double-play grounder into center field that triggered a four-run inning. Kendall capped the burst with his single off the glove of diving rookie second baseman Joe Inglett, giving Oakland a 4-1 advantage.
"That one inning, it was a walk and he hurt himself with the throw into center field," Indians manager Eric Wedge said. "That didn't take away from the way he handled himself out there. He wasn't his sharpest but by no means was he comparable to his numbers. He threw much better than what his final line ended up being."
"I wasn't trying to think about it, I was trying to make sure I made some better pitches or made some pitches after I made my mistake," Sabathia said. "That really kind of set the tone for the game and threw some things out of whack for me and for the team because with Frank (Thomas) running, a slow ground ball could have easily just took my time and got the out at second base, but I rushed and had a good grip and just threw it away."
Cleveland pulled within 4-3 in the fifth before Kendall responded with his second two-run hit, this time to left field with the bases loaded. Milton Bradley opened a 7-3 cushion with a single to right off Brian Sikorski two batters later.
Activated off the disabled list prior to the game, Oakland's Rich Harden struck out seven batters in three innings. He yielded one run and two hits and walked a batter. The Canadian righthander had been out since June 4 with a ligament sprain in his right elbow.
"It felt great to be out there besides a bad pitch to (Grady) Sizemore," said Harden, who surrendered a third-inning homer to Cleveland's center fielder. "I expected to feel a little more rusty out there but I felt good. I was feeling strong and I had my off-speeder working, that was the biggest thing. My changeup was working today, we threw some splits and I didn't expect them to be that good but it was working."
"He threw the ball good and the ball came out of his hand a lot better than I expected," Kendall said. "You've got a power arm like that you can put him in anywhere whether he's starting or relieving. You've got a guy throwing 98 (miles per hour) with a changeup and split like that, it was good to see him out there and good to see him afterwards saying he felt good."
Chad Gaudin (3-2) surrendered two runs over the next 1 1/3 innings but nevertheless picked up the win for Oakland, which reduced its magic number to clinch the American League West Division to four. The A's hold a seven-game lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim with 10 games remaining, including seven with the Angels.
"It was good to pick up that half-game we lost on Monday," Oakland closer Huston Street said. "Our hitters have been getting big hits and timely hitting, and you've got 10 games to go, a seven-game lead, but it's not over. We play them seven times, so it's always a battle and it's going to be a close finish.
"That's what you're counting down, you're trying to clinch as quick as possible and they're trying to keep us from that and they've got seven games but that's what we've been playing for all season long is to get that divisional title and now it's within reach."
After Jay Witasick surrendered back-to-back singles to begin the ninth and fell behind Sizemore, 2-0, Street came on as Oakland's seventh pitcher. He surrendered a single to Sizemore to load the bases but allowed just a sacrifice fly to Jason Michaels en route to recording his 36th save.
"That's a good team over there," Sabathia said. "They've got a good lineup, they've got a good chemistry with the guys over there and if you give them a little light, they're going to take it and it just seemed every time we got the lead and they scored a couple of runs, they just went ahead and took the game."
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