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After Zito pitched a four-hitter, his second shutout

Associated Press Published: August 21, 2001 12:00 AM

After Zito pitched a four-hitter, his second shutout in three starts, to lead the Oakland Athletics to a 9-0 victory over the Indians Monday night, teammate Tim Hudson tried to sneak up on him with a shaving cream pie during a local television interview.

"I kind of knew it was coming," said Zito, who struck out a career-high 11 and walked two. "I got (pitching coach) Rick Peterson pretty good yesterday, so I figured I might get it. I saw Huddy out of the corner of my eye and was able to dodge it."

The four hits Zito allowed matched his career low _ when he beat the Boston Red Sox 6-0 on Aug. 9.

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"That's as good as it gets," A's manager Art Howe said. "A shutout against that kind of lineup in a game was exactly what we needed."

Zito left the Indians shaking their heads.

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"He really messed with us," Cleveland outfielder Ellis Burks said. "He did a great job. That's in the top five games pitched against us this year."

Olmedo Saenz hit a bases-loaded triple and Jermaine Dye added a two-run homer as Oakland won for the 16th time in 18 games to remain four games ahead of Boston in the AL wild-card race. It was also the A's eighth straight home victory.

Zito (9-8) retired 17 straight batters at one stretch and allowed only two runners to reach second base.

"I don't think it was my best, but it's definitely up there," said Zito, who lowered his ERA to an AL-best 1.11 in four games in August. "When you make your pitches, you have a chance to be successful."

Zito recorded 13 outs in the infield, leaving each outfielder to record one putout each.

Jermaine Dye, traded to Oakland from Kansas City at midseason, said he preferred to play behind Zito instead of against him.

"I've faced him before and he has good movement," Dye said. "If he has that big curve going, you can pretty much forget about it and take your 0-for-4."

Zito allowed the Indians a leadoff runner only in the ninth.

"Everything was working," he said. "They have one of the top lineups in the league, so to be able to play with them gives us a lot of confidence."

Chuck Finley (5-6) allowed five runs and seven hits in five-plus innings. Finley fell to 8-20 in his career against the A's, including a 3-11 mark in Oakland.

Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada singled around a walk to Terrence Long to load the bases with two outs in the fourth for Oakland. Saenz blooped a ball to right field that skipped a charging Juan Gonzalez, and all three runners scored easily.

It was Saenz's first triple of the year and his fourth in 732 career at-bats.

Long added an RBI single, and Ramon Hernandez was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the sixth.

After Giambi drew his 98th walk of the season in the seventh, Dye hit his 19th homer of the season and sixth with Oakland. F.P. Santangelo and Hernandez added RBI singles in the inning.

Notes: Long played in his 200th consecutive game, the fourth longest streak in Oakland history. ... Cleveland, which leads the AL with a .289 batting average, was shut out for the fifth time this season. ... Finley is 0-4 with an 18.84 ERA in his last five road starts. ... The A's have won 14 of their last 15 series openers. ... Eric Chavez went 0-for-2 to snap a season-high 14-game hitting streak.

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