Inside Pitch: Melhuse Comes Through Again

With the two prized offseason hitting acquisitions, Milton Bradley and Frank Thomas, on the bench nursing injuries, A's manager Ken Macha did something he doesn't like to do: start his backup catcher at designated hitter.

Macha knows it rarely happens, but if starter Jason Kendall were to get injured and Melhuse needed to take over, the A's would be forced to play the remainder of the game without the DH.

If Melhuse keeps hitting like he's done the past week though, Macha will be inspired to take a chance more often.

Melhuse hit a third home run in the last five games, a grand slam off Seattle phenom Felix Hernandez in the third inning Tuesday, which broke open the game early and put the A's on their way to a 12-6 win.

"I've always wondered what it would be like to have the at-bats," Melhuse said. "You can relax a little easier. You don't put a lot of pressure on yourself each game, knowing it might be a week until you play again. When you relax at the plate, good things can happen."

Macha continues to maintain he likes the veteran Kendall behind the plate because of the way he handles the young pitchers. Melhuse is getting more playing time though, starting once every five days, and got four straight starts when Kendall served his suspension last week.

He's responded with a .311 average, three home runs and 12 RBIs. He has 45 at-bats, which he didn't get until July 10 a year ago.

REPLAY: The A's set a season-high with 16 hits Tuesday in their 12-6 win over the Mariners. Oakland has raised its team average 17 points to .247 over the last 11 games. Eleven of those hits came against Felix Hernandez, a career-high for the Seattle phenom.

Jason Kendall had two singles and three RBIs, giving the A's catchers seven RBIs for the game. Jay Payton, a notorious streak hitter, had four hits (tying a career high) and three runs, and he is 7-for-14 in the last three games.

Tuesday's Notebook

--RHP Steve Karsay, obtained in a minor league trade Sunday from Cleveland, was promoted from Triple-A Sacramento before Tuesday's game in a flurry of moves by the A's. Karsay made his major league debut for the A's back in 1993. He was 1-1 with a 2.00 ERA in eight relief appearances this season for Triple-A Buffalo, and opponents were hitting just .188 off him.

--LF Nick Swisher walked in the first inning to run his streak to 33 consecutive games reaching base. He clubbed his 13th home run of the season in the fourth inning.

--2B Mark Ellis extended his hitting streak to 10 games with two hits. Ellis is hitting .450 (18-for-40) during the streak.

--RHP Rich Harden, out since April 28 with a muscle strain in his back, is scheduled to throw off the mound for the first time Monday in Chicago.

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