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.