for this game

Scutaro drives in four runs as Athletics sweep Twins

Oct 6, 2006 - 11:18 PM OAKLAND, California (Ticker) -- Eric Chavez and Milton Bradley didn't do much in Minnesota. Back home, they did plenty to help the Oakland Athletics put an emphatic end to their postseason futility.

Chavez and Bradley hit early homers against Brad Radke as the Athletics completed a three-game American League Division Series sweep of the Minnesota Twins with an 8-3 victory.

Marco Scutaro drove in four runs and Dan Haren pitched six strong innings for Oakland, which never trailed in the series and advanced in the postseason for the first time since 1990. The Athletics ended a cruel streak of nine losses in close-out games this decade.

"We played a lot of good teams over those years, but it feels good to finally get one," Chavez said. "The last two weeks, we were kind of slowing down and we were playing a hot Minnesota Twins team."

Chavez was 0-for-8 in the series and had just one hit in his last 30 postseason at-bats when he drilled a 2-1 fastball from Radke deep into the right field seats for a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

"(I've been) giving it my best, it just has not worked out for me," Chavez said. "I've had pretty good success against Radke and was fortunate to hit the ball where it was pitched."

In the next frame, Bradley, who also was hitless in the first two games, hit a two-run blast to center field on a 2-1 offering to increase the advantage to 4-0.

"Myself and Chavez didn't have a hit yet, but it didn't matter," Bradley said. "We got the home runs today, but this is a team, and it seems like someone different comes through for us every time. That's what this team is about."

Trailing 4-1 in the sixth, the Twins mounted a rally, but it ended in disappointment even after the club got their first and only hit with runners in scoring position in the series.

Justin Morneau started the rally with a one-out single before Torii Hunter doubled. Rondell White followed with a base hit to right-center field that scored Morneau. But right fielder Bradley threw out Hunter at the plate on a controversial play.

The throw had beaten Hunter, who tried to avoid the tag by sliding to the outside of the plate. But plate umpire Mike Everitt called Hunter out, ruling that Kendall tagged Hunter on the left shoulder.

"I was safe," Hunter said. "The umpire called me out, so I was out. When you read the newspaper tomorrow, it will say I was out, but he never tagged me. I'm 100 percent sure of it. I never argue, but I was safe, and that's why I went a little crazy."

Hunter jumped up and down, showing his displeasure with the call. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire argued to no avail.

Hunter also was involved in the critical play in Game Two on Wednesday, when he misplayed a seventh-inning line drive by Mark Kotsay into a two-run inside-the-park homer.

The Twins, second in the league in batting with runners in scoring position during the season (.296), were 1-for-19 in those situations in the series.

"It's a bad time to go through one of those streaks like that," Morneau said. "Maybe we put too much pressure on ourselves to try and get it done, but we have been picking each other up all season. They got the clutch hits in this series, and we didn't."

Scutaro doubled in a run in the second and broke open the game in the seventh. After Nick Swisher drew a bases-loaded walk from Jesse Crain for a 5-2 edge, Scutaro lined a three-run double into the right field corner.

"I really don't know what to say about it," Scutaro said. "In that kind of situation, I just look for a pitch and try to make contact. For the last few years it's been working for me. I don't know what it is."

Scutaro became the first Oakland player to record four RBI in a postseason game since Dave Henderson did so in Game Three of the 1989 World Series against San Francisco.

All four runs were unearned as Morneau booted a grounder with runners at first and second with two outs to keep alive the inning.

Haren departed after the sixth, yielding two runs, nine hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

"Coming into this game, I knew it was going to be tight," Haren said. "I felt like my job was just to try to get it to our bullpen, who have been lights out lately.

"We got the big hits, home runs from Chavey and Milton, which gave us a little breathing room, and I just tried to keep it close until we could get to our bullpen."

Justin Duchscherer pitched a scoreless seventh and yielded a solo homer to Morneau in the eighth before closer Huston Street worked around two singles in the ninth to send the AL Central Division champions home.

Likely making his final major league appearance, Radke yielded four runs - three earned - and five hits in four innings. Pitching with a torn labrum and a stress fracture in his right shoulder, the 33-year-old announced earlier this season that he was retiring at the end of the campaign.

"September was difficult for me," Radke said. "I was happy to get back out there last week. I pitched well enough to get back out there today. I wished I could have pitched better today, but things happen. We played hard today, but things just didn't work out."

Chavez added a double and two walks and helped Haren escape a first-inning jam. He started an inning-ending double play after making a nice stop of a hard one-hopper by Michael Cuddyer.

Morneau and White had three hits each and Hunter also homered for Minnesota, which stranded seven runners, committed three errors and hit into two double plays.

"They outplayed us," Hunter said. "We got outplayed in every aspect of the game. We made errors and gave runs away, which is not what we were about all year. They made the plays when they had to, and we didn't. They deserve it."

The AL West champion, Oakland awaits the winner of the series between Detroit and the New York Yankees. The A's would have home-field advantage against the Tigers.






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