CLEVELAND – Sitting on the dugout steps before the game, Oakland manager Art Howe glanced at the threatening clouds above Jacobs Field and worried about a postponement.
The rain never came.
“Not a drop,” Howe said.
Nope, the sun is still shining on the Athletics.
Mark Mulder completed Oakland’s first four-game sweep of Cleveland and the A’s won their season-high ninth straight game Thursday night, 9-3 over the Indians.
“We’re feeling pretty good about ourselves,” Howe said. “We’re getting contributions from everyone in the lineup. That’s nice.”
Mulder (15-7) followed a brilliant performance by Cory Lidle — a one-hitter Wednesday night — with a pretty good one of his own, allowing three runs and five hits in 7 2-3 innings.
Mulder threatened to give Oakland consecutive one-hitters as he entered the seventh. He had only allowed a leadoff single in the third and retired 11 straight before Omar Vizquel singled with one out.
Ellis Burks followed with his 27th homer, bringing the Indians to 3-2 and snapping an 18-inning scoreless streak for Cleveland. Jim Thome then singled, but Mulder got Travis Fryman to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Mulder walked none, struck out two and got 16 outs on grounders as the A’s moved into a tie for first place in the AL West with Seattle, one game ahead of Anaheim.
“I just think we got a lot of confidence right now,” said Mulder, who is 13-3 in his last 17 starts. “Everybody is picking each other up and we’re just playing solid ball.”
Mulder also gave Oakland’s outfield the night off, as none of the A’s caught a fly in left, center or right.
Chad Bradford pitched 1 1-3 innings for his second save.
Karim Garcia also homered for the Indians, who have lost five in a row.
Following the game, interim manager Joel Skinner held a brief meeting with his players.
“I just talked to the guys to make sure we are all OK,” Skinner said. “It wasn’t a holler session and I didn’t chew anyone out.”
Oakland, which had an 11-game winning streak last season, swept a four-game series from Cleveland for the first time since the A’s moved to California from Kansas City in 1968.
The A’s did it with their usual great pitching — and some clutch hitting.
Of Oakland’s final 21 runs over the last three games of the series, 18 came with two outs. The A’s outscored the Indians 29-7 in the four-game sweep and never trailed.
“Anytime you can extend an inning with a two-out base hit, that’s winning baseball,” Skinner said. “That’s what beat us the last four nights.”
Miguel Tejada put Oakland ahead 3-0 in the fifth with a two-out, two-run single off Jason Phillips (1-2).
“That gave us some momentum and gave Mike a margin to work with, and he made it stand up,” Howe said.
Tejada has 104 RBIs — second in the AL to Texas’ Alex Rodriguez, who entered Thursday with 110.
Oakland opened a 5-2 lead in the eighth on a fielder’s choice grounder by Terrence Long and Ramon Hernandez’s RBI single.
The A’s, who spent the past four nights stepping all over the Indians, took a 1-0 lead in the second and spiked catcher Einar Diaz in the process.
David Justice drew a two-out walk, and Mark Ellis followed with a single. Long followed by grounding a single through the right side, and Justice was waved around.
Right fielder Karim Garcia made a strong throw home that handcuffed Diaz, who spun and reached back across the plate as Justice stepped on his right hand while scoring.
Diaz, who suffered a bruised hand and triceps muscle, was replaced by Eddie Perez.
Skinner said Diaz has three spike marks on his hand and will have X-rays on his arm taken Friday.