Chavez homers twice, lifts A's to rare road series win
ATLANTA (Ticker) -- Along with the weather,
is starting to heat up for the road-weary
Chavez went 5-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI as the Athletics captured the rubber game of their three-game interleague series with the
The series win on the road was the first for Oakland since taking two of three from Baltimore on April 4-7. Overall, the Athletics are just 10-24 away from McAfee Coliseum this season.
"It's good (to win the series)," said Chavez, who was unaware of the A's last series win on the road. "We've been terrible on the road."
Chavez, who batted just .218 with 23 RBI in his first 51 games, has been torrid since the start of June. Named American League Player of the Week on June 6, the 27-year-old third baseman is hitting .436 (17-for-39) with six homers and 14 RBI in 11 games in June.
"I usually start swinging the bats better right now," said Chavez, who is a .250 career hitter in April and May but is a .288 hitter thereafter. "I'm really not sure why to be quite honest."
Chavez, who set a career high in hits and homered twice for the 12th time in his career, gave his club a 4-2 lead with a two-run homer in the fifth inning.
"The home run, when he hit it, it seemed like he hit it off the end of the bat," said Atlanta starter
, who allowed four runs in five innings before leaving after a 29-minute rain delay in the bottom of the fifth. "He was a real tough out. He made adjustments. He's a good hitter."
After Atlanta tied the score, 4-4, on a two-run homer by
in the bottom half of the fifth,
put Oakland ahead 5-4 with a run-scoring double against rookie Blaine Boyer (0-1) in the sixth. Chavez added his 10th homer during a six-run seventh that broke open the game.
"It felt pretty good," Chavez said. "I kind of felt they were going my way today."
"It's great to see Chavez hitting better," Oakland starter
said. "He's the leader of the offense. When he starts hitting, it's contagious. Guys look to him for a spark and he's giving it to us."
Kotsay, who had a three-run homer in the seventh, finished with four RBI for the Athletics.
"I just think offensively, we're swinging the bat better as a group," Kotsay said. "From that we gain confidence."
Zito (3-7) benefited from the late offense, winning for just the second time in his last eight starts despite a shaky outing. The lefthander allowed four runs, four hits and six walks in five innings.
"It's nice to get a win when I don't have my best stuff," Zito said. "I wasn't locked in today. I was trying to be too fine."
Boyer, who was making his major league debut, and
combined to give up seven runs between the sixth and the seventh innings, extending the bullpen struggles for the Braves. In June, the bullpen is 1-5 with an 8.06 ERA in 22 1/3 innings.
"(The bullpen's) still got some straightening out to do," Braves manager
said. "It should be straightened out, but it's not. Right now, we have to get it going. Guys show flashes and then boom."
Atlanta lost its fifth consecutive series and fell a season-high 4 1/2 games behind the first-place
in the National League East Division.