for this game

Athletics hope to get over the hump, advance to ALCS

Oct 6, 2006 - 1:00 PM Minnesota at Oakland 4:09 pm EDT American League Division Series Athletics lead, 2-0

OAKLAND, California (Ticker) - The Oakland Athletics are in no mood for deja vu.

The Athletics try to finally get over the hump and advance to the American League Championship Series when they meet the Minnesota Twins on Friday in Game Three of the ALDS.

Oakland owns a stunning nine-game losing streak in potential clinching games since 2000. Twice in that stretch, the Athletics held a two-games-to-none lead in the ALDS only to lose three straight games - and the series.

"The Oakland A's have been in this situation before, 2-0 in the series. So there is some history there," Athletics manager Ken Macha said. "Obviously it's a new group of guys. Other than maybe four or five guys with (Barry) Zito and (Eric) Chavez leading, those guys who have been in this situation before."

The Athletics posted a 5-2 triumph on Wednesday behind Mark Kotsay's dramatic two-run inside-the-park home run in the seventh inning. Nick Swisher added two hits and scored twice for Oakland, which received five solid innings from Esteban Loaiza and four scoreless frames from the bullpen.

Dan Haren (14-13, 4.12 ERA) looks to pitch the A's to their first playoff series victory since 1990. The righthander went 8-2 from July 26-September 13, but concluded the season by going 0-2 with an 8.13 ERA in his last three outings.

Haren's last triumph was a 1-0 win against Minnesota in which he yielded just three hits in eight outstanding innings.

"It's a very tough lineup, especially the middle of that lineup," Haren said. "So I'm definitely going to have to attack them the same way."

After becoming the first team in baseball history to take sole possession of first place for the first time all season on the final day of the regular season, the Twins now find themselves in must-win territory.

But manager Ron Gardenhire is trying to remain positive.

"It's a good scenario for our baseball team," he said. "The guys are very excited and this is what baseball moments are all about."

Minnesota will try to avoid the sweep behind Brad Radke (12-9, 4.32), who made a surprising return from a shoulder injury in the final week of the regular season. The veteran righthander allowed just one unearned run in five frames of an eventual 2-1 victory against Kansas City on September 28.

Radke is 2-2 with a 3.19 ERA in five career postseason starts. Both of those wins came against the Athletics in the 2002 ALDS.

"(That series) was awesome, definitely a first playoff experience for me in '02," Radke said. "It was something I will never forget. ... Were we expected to beat the A's again? No. Were we ever expected to win? No. We are always the underdog, and I think that's the way we like it."

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