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Oakland Athletics 6
Anaheim Angels 2
Posted: Sunday October 07, 2001 08:40 PM
Oakland Athletics
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Anaheim Angels
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ANAHEIM, California (Ticker) -- Barry Zito, Eric Chavez and the Oakland Athletics are heading to the postseason with a lot of momentum.

Zito won his ninth straight start, Chavez broke the franchise homer and RBI marks for a third baseman and the American League wild card-winning Athletics recorded their sixth straight victory, a 6-2 triumph over the Anaheim Angels.

"That's a nice way to finish up, but in a way everybody was just trying to get it over with and get on to business," A's manager Art Howe said. "We're anxious to get to New York and hopefully continue to play well. We're looking for 11 more wins. That's our goal."

Oakland (102-60), the winningest wild card team in history, opens the American League Division Series on Wednesday in New York against the three-time defending world champion Yankees. The A's, who were ousted from the postseason by the Yankees last season, enter the series with wins in 14 of its last 16 games.

"They (the Yankees) are the champions and we have all the respect in the world for them," outfielder Terrence Long said. "They are a good team, but it's not intimidating at all. There is no pressure on us. We'll be the talk of baseball if we can knock them out."

The Athletics went 58-17 after the All-Star break to completely erase any memories of their 2-10 start. They went 14-6 this season against the Angels, who finish at 75-87 and in third place in the AL West.

Anaheim dropped its final seven games and won only six of its final 31 contests.

"This last month has been very difficult," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "It has really put us in a spirial. We played five months of solid baseball and one month of horrendous baseball and it's tough to end on that note."

On Sunday, Anaheim seemed to have very little chance against Zito, as the lefthander allowed just one run and four hits before being pulled after five innings in preparation for his Game Three start in the ALDS.

Zito did walk five, but he improved to 5-2 lifetime vs. the Angels and extended his winning streak that dates to a loss at Toronto on August 15. During the run, he has allowed a total of 10 runs.

Zito departed with a 2-1 lead after Chavez's 32nd homer and 114th RBI of the season in the fifth forced a 1-1 tie and Frank Menechino put the A's ahead for good with a sacrifice fly later in the frame.

The Athletics starters were an incredible 26-3 in the season's final 33 games.

Oakland broke open the game by scoring four times in the sixth, including a two-run double by Long.

However, the offensive star of the afternoon was clearly Chavez, even if the honor was a season in the making. His homer and RBI totals surpassed that of Sal Bando, who had 31 and 113 in Oakland's AL championship campaign of 1969.

"I knew today would be my last chance to do it, so it was something I was thinking about," Chavez said. "But if I didn't do it, I wasn't to worried. I just wanted to improve on my numbers from last year, but I never really set any specific numbers."

"This is just the tip of the iceberg. This kid is just coming into his own," Howe said of Chavez. "It's nice to have him swinging the way he is going into the playoffs. We need all the offense we can get."

The bright spot for Anaheim was outfielder Garret Anderson, whose solo homer in the eighth was his 194th hit of the season, the third-highest single-season total in franchise history, as were his 123 RBI.

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