OAKLAND, Calif. -- As their winning streak reached a half-dozen here yesterday afternoon, the Orioles did not lack for major contributors.
"As far as I'm concerned, it's got to be a team effort every time I pitch," said Jamie Moyer (11-6), who was at the head of the list of primary participants despite a bruised knee. The left-hander scattered eight hits over seven innings to win his fourth straight and his 11th in his past 14 decisions as the Orioles beat the Oakland Athletics, 6-3, and closed to within 3 1/2 games of first place with Toronto's loss in California last night.
As important as Moyer's effort was, however, he did have a lot of help. Mike Pagliarulo, who hasn't stopped hitting since joining the Orioles Aug. 16, had a two-run single and Chris Hoiles added a two-run home run to highlight a four-run sixth inning.
Brady Anderson had a second straight spectacular defensive day in left field and added a triple that led to an important run in the seventh inning. And five different players -- Pagliarulo, Hoiles, Anderson, Harold Baines and Cal Ripken -- had two hits apiece as the Orioles won for the sixth straight time after starting this trip with two losses in Texas.
Moyer's only real trouble spot came in the fifth inning, when the A's literally almost knocked him out of the game as they bunched four hits to break a scoreless tie. After opening with a single, Craig Paquette was thrown out trying to steal before Mike Bordick's double and Marcos Armas' single put runners on first and third with one out.
Henry Mercedes struck out, but Jerry Browne grounded a single to center to drive in the game's first run and leave runners on the corners. Brent Gates followed with a hard shot that hit Moyer just above the left knee, and he recovered in time to get the final out of the inning.
"It was one of those balls that I was unable to react to," said Moyer. "I don't remember much about it. After that, when we were hitting, I just tried to keep moving around so it wouldn't stiffen up."
Moyer had to do a lot of moving in the sixth inning, because it took awhile for the Orioles to give him four runs. All of the damage came after there were two outs.
Baines rifled a single to right field and Ripken followed with a wedge shot to the same area that eluded Ruben Sierra, who was charged with an error as the runners advanced to second and third. That's when Pagliarulo, who has 12 RBI in the 11 games he's played for the Orioles, hit a single through the middle off rookie right-hander Steve Karsay (1-3).
Moments later the lead went to 4-1 as Hoiles hit his 21st home run of the year over the left-center-field fence. For Hoiles, who was on the disabled list from Aug. 3 to 24 with a strained lower back muscle, it was the first home run in five weeks, but it didn't come without warning.
In each of the previous four games, Hoiles had hit a double, an indication that he was close to getting back on the power track.
"I was a little tentative at first [when he came off the DL]. I think you always are with an injury like that," he said.
"I was a little cautious, and I can still feel it sometimes, but it's not enough to not let everything go. I've been swinging the bat pretty good," said Hoiles.
Before scoring in the fifth, the A's had threatened Moyer only once -- in the first inning. Back-to-back singles by Gates and Sierra brought Dave Henderson to the plate.
"The only times I've faced these guys before [1989-90] they had a lineup that was pretty good one through nine, but he always seemed to swing the bat good against me," said Moyer.
Henderson was one of only two players in the A's lineup who had faced Moyer before.
On this occasion, the A's center fielder flied to Anderson in left and Troy Neel popped out to end the inning. They started a string of 11 straight batters retired by Moyer before Paquette singled in the fifth.
This is obviously not the same team Moyer faced in the past, but any difference was lost on the left-hander. "Whether they're having trouble or not, they've got a lot of good, young players and some quality veterans," he said.
Moyer eventually left the game in the eighth inning, but he and manager Johnny Oates both indicated his left knee played only a minimal role in his departure.
"He stiffened up a little, but he's OK," Oates said. "He'll be fine."
The Orioles' win yesterday kept them 2 1/2 games behind the second-place New York Yankees. And when California helped out for the second night in a row, beating the Blue Jays, 4-2, first place suddenly was only 3 1/2 games away.
Earlier in the day Oates was asked if he felt his team was back in the race. "Who ever said we were out of it?" he asked.
"I don't feel comfortable -- I'd rather be six games in front -- but I definitely think we're in it."
Considering that only a week ago his team was in fifth place, Oates has reason to be optimistic. The odds still are stacked against the Orioles, but they have proved on this trip that they haven't lost their resilience.