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Rookie rouses the A's

Yankees suffer 3d straight loss

NEW YORK -- Mike Rouse has made a big difference for Oakland in only two games.

The rookie second baseman followed up a stellar major league debut with a two-run single yesterday, helping the Athletics to a 5-2 victory over the New York Yankees.

With ailing shortstop Bobby Crosby (hand) out of the lineup and second baseman Mark Ellis on the disabled list, Rouse was called up Friday from Triple A Sacramento.

He went 3 for 3 with a walk in his first game, then delivered another key hit yesterday.

``When you get to the major leagues, you want to make an impression, and he's certainly doing that," A's manager Ken Macha said. ``It's been a big boost for us. He scored two runs Friday night and we won by one."

Frank Thomas hit a two-run homer, Kirk Saarloos (3-4) combined with three relievers on a six-hitter, and the surging Athletics won for the eighth time in 10 games.

``I played with Mike in college, at Cal State-Fullerton, and I know what he can do," Saarloos said.

Thomas hit his 16th homer with two outs in the first after Mark Kotsay opened the inning with a double off Mike Mussina (8-2). Thomas's at-bat lasted 11 pitches.

Rouse added a two-run single in the fifth.

``A couple of bad pitches and a couple of bad breaks," said Mussina, referring to a pair of errors that led to two unearned runs for Oakland.

Saarloos allowed solo homers by Jason Giambi, his 18th, in the fourth and rookie Kevin Thompson, his first in the majors, in the fifth.

New York lost its third straight. The A's (31-31) have won four of five to move back to .500 for the first time since May 22.

Oakland reliever Brad Halsey escaped a jam of his own creation in the seventh, when the Yankees had runners at second and third with one out. But Johnny Damon grounded back to the mound and Derek Jeter struck out, ending the threat.

Halsey got two outs in the eighth, and Chad Gaudin retired Thompson on a bases-loaded grounder to preserve the lead. Huston Street threw a perfect ninth again for his second save in two days and 13th in 16 chances this season.

After Giambi's homer cut Oakland's lead to 2-1, second baseman Robinson Cano bobbled Adam Melhuse's grounder for an error to start the fifth. Marco Scutaro's double put runners at second and third before Rouse slapped a soft single to center.

Thompson's homer made it 4-2 in the fifth, but the A's added an unearned run off reliever Ron Villone in the eighth with the help of an error by Giambi at first base. Dan Johnson blooped an RBI single into short left field.

Mussina allowed four runs -- three earned -- and five hits in six innings. He walked one and struck out seven.

Saarloos gave up two runs and four hits in six innings with three walks and two strikeouts.

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