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Sunday August 12, 2001
Yankees 2 @ Athletics 4

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Jason Giambi had no game-winning home runs among his first 999 career hits.

The first one was more than a milestone -- it was the perfect ending to the Oakland Athletics' perfect homestand.

Giambi hit a majestic two-run, two-out homer in the ninth inning to give the Athletics their 11th straight victory, 4-2 over the New York Yankees on Sunday.

Giambi's 1,000th career hit was a product of an educated guess -- and these days, every gamble seems to be paying off for baseball's hottest team. Oakland is on its longest winning streak in more than 13 years.

"I bet the whole bank that I'd see a 3-2 breaking ball," Giambi said. "It's a gutsy pitch to throw, but I knew I had it. It's incredible to make something like that into No. 1,000. Maybe it was all meant to be this way."

All-Star reliever Mike Stanton (7-3) walked Johnny Damon with one out in the ninth. After Olmedo Saenz struck out, Giambi ran the count full before guessing Stanton would throw him a curveball -- even though Stanton hadn't yet thrown him an off-speed pitch.

Giambi connected for a towering, no-doubt homer into the right-field stands that brought raucous cheers from Oakland's seventh sellout crowd of the season.

"When he sort of stands there with that bat up in the air, you know he caught it really hard," said Mark Mulder (15-6), who threw a seven-hitter in front of his parents and brothers in town from Chicago.

"But we thought something was going to happen in the ninth, just because of the way we've been playing. Everyone in the dugout was saying it: 'Watch him hit a curveball for a homer.' "

Oakland rallied to win after Clay Bellinger tied it up for New York with a two-run homer in the eighth -- a fittingly dramatic way to end Oakland's second unbeaten homestand since 1992. The A's began the stand by sweeping the Red Sox, moving in front of Boston in the derby for the final playoff spot.

"It might not have been the perfect location, but it had a good break on it," Stanton said. "He's hot, and when he gets the pitch he's looking for, he's not missing it."

It was the 29th homer of the season for Giambi, who homered in each of the series' three games. He was mobbed at home plate by his teammates, and he returned to the field for a curtain call as well.

"I'm just trying to put the team on my back and carry them to the postseason," Giambi said. "It's just like last year in that respect, but this year, the supporting cast is a lot better."

Giambi, eligible for free agency at the end of the season, has been rumored as a replacement for Tino Martinez at first base for the Yankees next season.

Oakland extended its longest winning streak since a team-record 14-game string in 1988. The Athletics did it with their familiar formula of strong pitching and timely homers -- all three of their hits left the park.

Mulder struck out seven to win his seventh straight decision, while Miguel Tejada and Eric Chavez hit back-to-back homers in the fifth inning.

The A's held their two-game lead over Boston in the wild-card race, while the Yankees' division lead was cut to three games over the Red Sox.

It was the first game-ending home run allowed by the Yankees since June 3, 1997, when Baltimore's Rafael Palmeiro connected against Jim Mecir, who now pitches for Oakland.

"It's terrible. It makes for a lousy day off," New York manager Joe Torre said. "They certainly outplayed us this weekend. We were frustrated."

It was a maddening day for Mike Mussina, who retired Oakland's first 14 hitters and allowed only two hits. Mussina struck out nine in eight overpowering innings after losing his last two starts, but it wasn't enough.

"That's about as good as I can throw," Mussina said. "Two solo home runs, only two guys cross the plate. I'll take that 30 times a year."

Mulder, the A's left-handed ace who has been unbeatable for six weeks, was dominant in the early innings. He then hung on to finish his fifth complete game of the season -- tied with Minnesota's Brad Radke for the AL lead -- despite allowing a game-tying homer by the light-hitting Bellinger.

Mulder gave up a double to Bernie Williams in the first inning, but then retired 11 straight.

He allowed just three more hits before the eighth, when Alfonso Soriano got a one-out single. Bellinger hit a terrible changeup from Mulder for his second homer of the season.

Game notes
The Athletics beat the Yankees in all six of their meetings this season at the Coliseum, where New York won Game 5 of last season's AL Division Series before going on to its third straight World Series championship. ... It was the first time during Torre's tenure with the Yankees that New York was swept in consecutive series against one team. ... Oakland set a record by drawing 238,000 fans to the homestand.