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Rangers Avoid Athletics Sweep


Two seasons ago, he was pitching in the independent Northern League. Last season, he got as far as Double-A in the minors.

On Wednesday, rookie reliever Jeff Zimmerman celebrated his selection as an AL All-Star by pitching 2 1-3 scoreless innings for the win as the Texas Rangers defeated the Oakland Athletics 7-4 to break a four-game losing streak.

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  • Who's Sizzlin' and Fizzlin'
  • Lee Stevens' two-run single broke a seventh-inning tie as the Rangers avoided being swept by Oakland for the first time in five seasons.

    Zimmerman (8-0), who lowered his ERA to 0.89, has not allowed a run in his last 16 appearances tying a club record. The eight straight victories at the start of his major league career are unprecedented by a Texas pitcher.

    "This is absolutely the ultimate pinnacle to me. Just to be named to an All-Star team is unbelievable," Zimmerman said. "Every day is still a wonderful new experience for me."

    John Wetteland, also selected to the All-Star team, pitched the ninth for his 26th save, tops in the majors. He walked the bases loaded before getting Miguel Tejada on a popout to end the game.

    "To say he's been impressive is obvious," Wetteland said of his setup man. "We know it's very tough to do what he's done, even though none of us have been there. I don't think anybody has been."

    Rangers manager Johnny Oates said Zimmerman, who has struck out 46 and walked only nine batters in 50 1-3 innings, showed Wednesday that he deserves a spot on the All-Star squad.

    "He pitched like an All-Star, didn't he? Yes, he did," Oates said. "Right now it's arguable he could be our Most Valuable Player through the first half of the season."

    Stevens, who entered the game in the sixth as a defensive replacement, broke a 4-4 tie with his single and the Rangers added another run in the seventh on a throwing error by Oakland catcher Ramon Hernandez.

    Brad Rigby (3-4), the second of five Oakland pitchers, allowed one run in two-thirds of an inning. The Oakland bullpen has eight losses and seven blown saves in the last 21 games.

    Todd Zeile drove in two runs for Texas with a sacrifice fly in the second and an RBI single in the fourth. Roberto Kelly had a two-run double in the sixth to knock out A's starter Kenny Rogers.

    "I got in trouble a couple of times, but that last one hurt. I needed to make a pitch on Kelly and I didn't. I made a mistake there," Rogers said.

    Eric Chavez and Ben Grieve homered for the A's, who were trying to sweep a three-game series against Texas for the first time since Aug. 5-7, 1994, at Oakland.

    Chavez gave Oakland a 3-1 lead in the second with a two-run homer, while Grieve tied the game 4-4 by leading off the sixth with his 10th homer of the season. Grieve also had an RBI single in the first.

    Rogers allowed four runs on eight hits in 5 2-3 innings. Texas starter Rick Helling gave up four runs on six hits in five innings.

    Rafael Palmeiro, picked as an All-Star reserve earlier in the day, had two hits for the Rangers. Teammate Juan Gonzalez, who probably would have been taken as a reserve but said he would not play unless selected by fans to start, had two hits and scored three times.

    Notes:

  • DH John Jaha was selected as Oakland's All-Star.
  • Zimmerman tied the club record of 16 straight scoreless appearances set earlier this season by Tim Crabtree.
  • Zeile extended his hitting streak to 16 games, matching his career high.
  • All seven of Chavez's homers this season have given the A's the lead.
  • Grieve's homer was his first at home since July 18, 1998.
  • Gonzalez extended his hitting streak to a season-high nine games.
  • With a no-decision, Rogers remains undefeated at the Oakland Coliseum since 1994. He has won 16 straight decisions there.
  • Matt Stairs went 0-for-3 for Oakland, leaving him 2-for-26 on the A's nine-game homestand that ended Wednesday and dropping his average to .239.
  • Kelly left the game during his at-bat in the seventh with a strained left biceps. He hurt himself while fouling off a pitch.

    ©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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