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Notes from a day in baseball:

1. Welcome to California! No, Esteban Loaiza is not picking us up from the Oakland Airport this evening — though we are flying in — but thanks for asking. Loaiza did, however, pitch six strong innings to get the win as the Athletics beat the Mariners 9-6. Of course this means that Oakland manager Ken Macha is now looking into having all his pitchers spend a night in jail before they are scheduled to start. Loaiza, as you know, spent Tuesday night in the Graybar Hotel on suspicion of speeding and drunken driving.

2. Can No One Stop This Blue & Black Juggernaut? On Wednesday a drunken, naked Mr. Met was seen sprinting around the Shea Stadium outfield singing an off-key rendition of "We Are The Champions," until groundskeepers were ordered to gag him and roll him up in the infield tarp. Please excuse his giddiness: The first-place Mets (42-23) extended their NL East lead to 9½ games over the Phillies with a 5-4 win. David Wright was in the middle of things as usual, with a three-run homer, as New York won its eighth straight.

3. We've Got To Help Mulder! Mark Mulder has an ERA over the last month that frightens children and pets (10.89), but he's working his way out of his slump; with help from rookie Chris Duncan on Wednesday. Duncan had a triple and a double as the Cardinals beat the Pirates 6-5. Mulder (6-4) went five innings and gave up nine hits and four runs.

4. Guillen Ratchets Down The Crazy For One Game. Mark Buehrle (7-4) went eight innings to get the win — and no, manager Ozzie Guillen did not order him to hit anyone — as the White beat the Rangers 8-2. Chicago has won seven of 10.


5. Cubs, You've Been Punk'd! Oh, to be a Cubs fan this week (or for the past 90 years, for that matter). Brad Ausmus' two-run single in the eighth gave the Astros a 3-2 win over Chicago, Houston's first three-game sweep at Wrigley Field since May 2001.