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Yankees 2 @ Athletics 6

Thursday April 25, 2002

Mussina L3-1 | 5.2IP | 7H | 6ER | 3BB | 9K | 3.71ERA

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- After listening to three days of boos from the fans who once adored him, Jason Giambi left Oakland without a word.

Miguel Tajada hit a three-run homer, and Barry Zito pitched seven strong innings for his first victory of the season as the Athletics beat the New York Yankees 6-2 Thursday.

But the eyes and voices of the fans in the unusually large Coliseum crowd were again fixed on Giambi, who now knows just how much he angered those who watched him develop into a player good enough to be signed away by the big-market Yankees.

After dressing in a sharp cobalt-blue suit and tie that he wouldn't have been caught dead wearing in the other clubhouse, Giambi hugged the clubhouse attendants and departed without taking any parting words for the city where he was a beloved blue-collar hero.

He's wearing a different blue collar now.

"We knew when we signed him that he was tough," Yankees manager Joe Torre said. "Coming home has been in the back of his mind since the beginning of the season. I think the anticipation is over with. I'm excited to watch him go from here."

Giambi, who left Oakland to sign a $120 million, seven-year contract with the Yankees during the offseason, couldn't solve Zito's looping curve in the final day of the former MVP's only appearance back in Oakland during the regular season.

With boos sounding each time he stepped out of the first-base dugout, Giambi went hitless in three at-bats against Zito after going 4-for-8 in the first two games.

"Sometimes it takes coming back to familiar surroundings to get going," Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter said. "He feels comfortable here, and it worked out for him. There's always going to be a transition period for a new guy. He handled it well."

Zito struck out Giambi in the fourth, and he flied out to right with two runners on in the sixth. In the eighth, Giambi grounded into an inning-ending double play against reliever Mike Magnante as the A's killed New York's final rally attempt.

"We all know and love him, but you've got to hate him out there if he's wearing a different uniform," Zito said. "It's good to get it over with and get on with our seasons."

Greg Myers hit a two-run homer for Oakland, and Frank Menechino had an RBI double as the A's roughed up Mike Mussina (3-1) for seven hits in 5 2-3 innings.

Mussina struck out nine, but he never got back in his groove after Tejada's fourth-inning homer -- the 100th of his career -- down the left-field line. His eight-game winning streak dating back to last season was snapped.

"I'm frustrated, because I had good stuff, and I messed it up," Mussina said. "You can't waste days when you have good stuff. ... I couldn't find my spots, for whatever reason. I couldn't throw the ball over the plate.

"Sometimes you aim for that big white thing, and it ends up going down the middle. Even after 12 years, you find yourself doing dumb things."

Zito (1-1) struck out six and allowed five hits. He didn't allow a run until the seventh, when Rondell White doubled and scored on Shane Spencer's sacrifice fly.

The pitching matchup was identical to Game 3 of the teams' division series last fall. Mussina beat Zito 1-0, with both pitchers giving outstanding performances.

"It's pretty much behind me," Zito said. "I've had a lot of time to think about Game 3, but it's still a motivation for me when I face the Yanks."

Tejada's blast was his third homer in three days against the Yankees, who took two of three from the A's but still dropped behind Boston into second place in the AL East.

"With Miggy, it's all about confidence," manager Art Howe said. "If he's swinging the bat well, he's going to get his hits, no matter what you throw him. I don't know if you'd call (Mussina's) breaking ball a mistake, but he sure hit all of it."

With solid cheers behind him, Jeremy Giambi went 0-for-3 in the leadoff spot, but he walked in the seventh inning. He has reached base in every game this season.

Game notes
OF Jermaine Dye should be back in the A's lineup for Friday's game against the White Sox, general manager Billy Beane said. Dye, who hasn't played since breaking his leg on a foul ball in Game 4 of the A's division series loss to the Yankees last October, arrived in Oakland on Thursday after a rehabilitation stint in Sacramento. ... Oakland picked up its 2003 option on Howe, who has been with the team since 1996. ... LHP Mark Mulder won't return from the disabled list to pitch on Saturday, as the A's hoped. Mulder still isn't fully recovered from a strained left forearm.


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