OAKLAND, Calif. -- What looked like the easiest win for the Oakland Athletics turned out to be the most improbable.
The Athletics set an AL record by winning their 20th straight game -- barely. They somehow blew an 11-run lead before pinch-hitter Scott Hatteberg homered in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat Kansas City 12-11 Wednesday night.
A streak filled with dramatic finishes grew even longer thanks to Hatteberg's one-out theatrics.
''It's some kind of magic right now,'' Hatteberg said.
With the largest regular-season crowd in Coliseum history cheering the final game of a historic homestand, the A's took an 11-0 lead after three innings.
Then, after the Royals tied it on a two-out, RBI single by Luis Alicea in the top of the ninth, the Athletics won in the bottom half for the third straight game.
Oakland broke a three-way tie for the longest winning streak in AL history with the 1906 Chicago White Sox and the 1947 New York Yankees.
''I know it was a record-breaker, but I don't want to watch this one on film too much,'' A's manager Art Howe said.
The major league record of 26 consecutive victories was set by the New York Giants in 1916.
As Hatteberg leaped and jogged around the bases, the A's unfurled a huge banner high above center field reading ''20.''
Hatteberg's teammates mobbed him at home plate in a scene that was nearly identical to the A's previous two victories -- and Miguel Tejada, the hero in Oakland's last two wins, was one of the first to greet Hatteberg.
Only a handful of fans had left the Coliseum before the late innings, and almost nobody left immediately. They stood and cheered, with the fans closest to the A's tunnel giving high-fives to the players as they raced to the locker room.
It was Oakland's fifth game-ending homer of the season -- the third by a pinch-hitter.
''We really got lucky to come out of this one on top, but we've been getting a lot of luck. We don't question it,'' Hatteberg said.
After an off-day Thursday, the Athletics will try to extend baseball's longest winning streak in 67 years when they play at Minnesota on Friday night in a matchup of division leaders.
''I'm glad we had an off-day yesterday. If they were back-to-back-to-back, they would have had to cart me out on something,'' Howe said.
A victory at the Metrodome would put Oakland in a tie with the Chicago Cubs of 1880 and 1935 for the second-longest streak ever.
Yankees 3, Red Sox 1
NEW YORK -- Jason Giambi put New York ahead with an opposite-field, two-run homer off Derek Lowe (18-7) and Andy Pettitte rebounded from a sore back to lead the Yankees over the fading Boston Red Sox.
After the Yankees lost the series opener, Roger Clemens and Pettitte (9-5) beat Boston on consecutive nights, increasing New York's AL East lead to 8 1/2 games over the second-place Red Sox.
Angels 4, Devil Rays 2
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Kevin Appier won his fifth straight start and Anaheim won its sixth straight to increase its lead in the AL wild-card race.
The Angels lead Seattle by 3 1/2 games in the chase for the wild-card spot.
Twins 3, Mariners 2
SEATTLE -- Rick Reed outpitched Jamie Moyer (13-7) and AL Central-leading Minnesota snapped a season-high five-game losing streak.
Jacque Jones had three hits for the Twins, who won the season series (5-4) against Seattle for the first time since 1992.
Orioles 8, Rangers 3
BALTIMORE -- Tony Batista had three hits, including a two-run homer, as Baltimore broke a 10-game losing streak by defeating Texas.
Texas right-hander Aaron Myette, who was ejected after throwing two pitches behind Melvin Mora on Tuesday, became the first major leaguer to start games on consecutive days since Oakland's Steve McCatty in 1980.
Indians 9, Tigers 3
DETROIT -- Jaret Wright won for the first time in nearly 15 months as Cleveland took advantage of sloppy Detroit fielding.
Wright, one of the most promising pitchers in the game before being plagued by injuries, had been 0-5 with a 17.83 ERA since beating Minnesota on June 5, 2001. He spend much of the past three seasons on the disabled list or on rehab stints in the minors after undergoing surgery on his right shoulder in August 2000.
Blue Jays 6, White Sox 2
TORONTO -- Pete Walker (8-4) pitched seven effective innings as Toronto ended Chicago's seven-game winning streak.
Jose Valentin hit his third homer in two days for the White Sox, who went 5-1 on their six-game trip to Detroit and Toronto.
With the score 2-all, Ken Huckaby led off the Toronto seventh with a single off Dan Wright (10-12) and Jayson Werth walked.
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