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A's Drop Angels, Pressure M's

When told the Athletics formally eliminated both Toronto and Boston from the playoffs on Wednesday, Oakland manager Art Howe smiled.

"I want to hear that we eliminated Cleveland," he said.

The Athletics beat the Anaheim Angels 9-7 Wednesday and tied Seattle for the AL West lead.

The A's entered the day a half-game back of the Mariners in the AL West and 1 1/2 games up on Cleveland in the wild card chase. The Mariners play host to Texas and the Indians play host to the Twins in night games.

Rookie Terrence Long's fifth-inning two-run homer, his 18th, broke a 5-all tie in a game that had four lead changes. He also had a sacrifice fly.

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Game Summary

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  • "What have I been saying all year?" Howe asked. "It is going to come down to the final series. I wish I had been wrong."

    After the A's and Angels wrap up their four-game series on Thursday, Texas comes to Oakland for the final three games of the regular season.

    "If we keep playing as we have, we should play well into October," said closer Jason Isringhausen, who had the final three outs Wednesday for his 31st save.

    Darin Erstad's solo home run in the second inning gave him 99 RBIs this season, the most ever for a leadoff batter. Boston's Nomar Garciaparra had 98 in 1997.

    Erstad was 4-for-5 and needed a triple for the cycle. He also was intentionally walked.

    "It sounds corny but I play to win. I want to win," Erstad said. "We all want good numbers, but I want the team to do well."

    Doug Jones (4-2) allowed a run on two hits in 1 1-3 innings with a strikeout and two walks for the win.

    The Angels jumped out early on Garret Anderson's two-run double off Gil Heredia in the first. Anderson finished 4-for-5.

    The Athletics tied it up with two outs in the bottom of the inning on Ben Grieve's two-run single off Al Levine.

    The Angels took back the lead with Erstad's home run into the right-field seats in the second inning, his career-high 25th of the season.

    Long's sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning scored Jeremy Giambi, who singled. Levine walked Randy Velarde and Jason Giambi, and Matt Stairs hit a two-run double to give the A's a 5-3 lead.

    The Angels tied it again in the fifth. Anderson singled, went to second on Troy Glaus' double and scored on Adam Kennedy's sacrifice fly off Jones. Matt Walbeck singled and Glaus scored on catcher Ramon Hernandez's throwing error to third.

    After Long's home run in the fifth, the Angels narrowed the gap on Kennedy's run-scoring double in the sixth.

    Eric Chavez hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the inning and Orlando Palmeiro dropped a popup to right, allowing another run.

    Glaus drew a two-out walk off Jim Mecir in the eighth and scored after two wild pitches.

    Mike Holtz (2-3) went 1 2-3 innings, allowing three runs on three hits.

    Levine left after just 1 2-3 innings, allowing five runs on five hits with five walks.

    "Al never got into a groove. He couldn't find the zone, and when you can't do that, they can take advantage of you, which they did," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said.

    Notes

  • Oakland's first-inning runs came with two outs, a day after all their runs in a 10-3 victory over the Angels came with two outs.
  • Th Athletics' 19-6 record in September is their best showing for the month since going 20-8 in 1990.
  • Levine threw 51 pitches, only 18 for strikes.
  • Anderson has hit safely in 20 of 25 games, and leads the Angels with seven multihit games.
  • The Angels were formally eliminated from the postseason with their loss Tuesday night. .... Anaheim's Mo Vaughn, one homer shy of 300 for his career, struck out three times. .... It was Erstad's fifth four-hit game of the year. He leads the majors with 234 hits.

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