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NOTES

Bradley Exits Season on Redeeming Note

October 15, 2006|Mike DiGiovanna | Times Staff Writer

DETROIT — Milton Bradley made a name for himself this season. A good one, for a change.

After two tumultuous years with the Dodgers, in which he clashed with teammates, fans and the media and had run-ins with the law, Bradley capped a relatively calm, event-free and productive season with the Oakland Athletics by thriving amid the pressure of the American League Championship Series.

Bradley, acquired from the Dodgers last December, was clearly the best player on the field for the A's, batting .500 (nine for 18) with two home runs, two doubles and five runs batted in. He also made several outstanding plays in right field.

Though the A's were swept by the Tigers, 28-year-old Bradley could look back at his injury-plagued season, in which he hit .276 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in 96 games, and gain a measure of satisfaction.

"I grew up," Bradley said after Saturday's Game 4 defeat. "You make so many mistakes, you quit pointing the finger and start looking in the mirror. It was easy to come here because no one was looking for anything to happen, no one was pointing a finger at me."

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Oakland starter Dan Haren was almost untouchable for four innings Saturday, using the shadows of a 4:30 p.m. EDT start to add further deception to his split-fingered fastball, which he used to strike out seven through four scoreless innings.

The A's staked the right-hander to a 3-0 lead.

But soon after the shadows disappeared, the Detroit offense surfaced. Brandon Inge beat out a slow roller to third to open the fifth and took second on third baseman Eric Chavez's throwing error.

Back-to-back RBI doubles by Tigers Curtis Granderson and Craig Monroe pulled the score to 3-2, and Magglio Ordonez lined a homer to left to lead off the sixth, making it 3-3.

Detroit loaded the bases with one out in the seventh, and A's Manager Ken Macha summoned closer Huston Street to face Carlos Guillen, who grounded to Chavez to begin an inning-ending double play.

Street retired the side in order in the eighth but seemed to run out of gas in the ninth, although the homer he allowed to Ordonez came on his 28th pitch.

"I wasn't tired -- I'm only two years out of college," Street said. "I was prepared to go on forever."

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Oakland nearly rallied in the eighth Saturday when, with the score tied 3-3, Tigers reliever Jason Grilli threw 12 consecutive balls to Chavez, Jay Payton and Nick Swisher to load the bases with two out.

Manager Jim Leyland summoned left-hander Wilfredo Ledezma to face Marco Scutaro, who has developed a reputation for delivering big hits in the clutch. But Scutaro popped out to catcher Ivan Rodriguez to end the inning.

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mike.digiovanna@latimes.com

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