Oakland A's Notes: Loaiza Comes Through

Esteban Loaiza hasn't been worth his three-year, $21 million contract very often this year.

But he was Sunday, pitching eight brilliant and efficient innings of one-run ball as the A's beat Tampa Bay 3-1 to complete a three-game sweep.

Loaiza's showed signs of a breakthrough lately, simply because the velocity on his fastball hit 94 mph recently. The results were there Sunday.

"He got his velocity back up," third baseman Eric Chavez said. "He's a veteran. He knows how to pitch. ... When he's hitting 91 or 93, you know he is in for a good outing."

The A's needed the outing from Loaiza because Tampa Bay starter Tim Corcoran held Oakland to one hit through six innings and retired 14 of 15 batters at one point.

Loaiza was just a little better. He allowed a run in the second inning, then cruised until the seventh, when he walked two. But he escaped the inning with no runs scored to preserve the lead provided by a two-run homer by Chavez.

"That," teammate Frank Thomas said, "is the way (Loaiza) pitched in Chicago."

A's Notes

--CF Mark Kotsay sat out a sixth consecutive game with a sore back. The A's were targeting Sunday for Kotsay's return, but his back felt stiff before the game and he said he didn't want to push it.

--LHP Joe Kennedy pitched one-third of an inning Saturday for Triple-A Sacramento. He's expected to be activated from the disabled list before Monday's game. Kennedy has been out since May 11 with a sore left shoulder.

--LHP Ron Flores is most likely to get sent back to the minors to make room for LHP Joe Kennedy's return from the disabled list Monday.

--RHP Rich Harden played catch again Sunday for about five minutes. He's still a very long way from getting onto a mound. He has been out since June 8 with a sprained ulnar collateral ligament.

--SS Bobby Crosby (back strain) took batting practice before Saturday's game, then took it easy Sunday. Crosby is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, but it might be a couple more days after that before he's ready.

BY THE NUMBERS: 7 -- The number of career ejections for A's outfielder Milton Bradley. The latest was Aug. 9 against Texas by home plate umpire Paul Schrieber for arguing balls and strikes.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "I'm not a Raiders fan. But it's a sign from the heavens that I must select Lamont Jordan with the first pick in my fantasy draft." -- Rangers outfielder Mark DeRosa, after hitting two three-run home runs that hit a Raiders banner above the left-field steps.

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