OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) – Manager Sam Perlozzo might just quit warning Eric DuBose when he’s going to pitch every time out.

“Works for me,” DuBose said with a grin.

DuBose didn’t allow a hit until the fifth inning of his emergency start, and the Baltimore Orioles sent Oakland to its fourth straight loss with a 5-3 victory over the Athletics on Wednesday – the club’s first three-game sweep at the Coliseum in nearly 12 years.

The Orioles have won nine of their last 12 games and suddenly consider themselves a playoff contender again. There were loud cheers in the clubhouse postgame and plenty of jokes to go around.

“These guys believe in themselves right now,” Perlozzo said. “It feels great. … They’re sky high.”

DuBose took the mound at the last minute after Daniel Cabrera was scratched because of a sore lower back, then pitched brilliantly on only 20 minutes’ notice. Mark Ellis broke up the no-hit bid with a bloop single to center with two outs in the fifth.

“I think that did work to an advantage today,” DuBose said. “I didn’t have a chance to think about the start.”

The 29-year-old DuBose (1-0), making his second appearance of the season after being recalled from Double-A Bowie on Aug. 9, retired 14 of the first 16 batters. He allowed only Ellis’ hit in six shutout innings, struck out two and walked four.

“We’ve toyed with the idea if he does get the start not telling him,” Perlozzo said.

DuBose was 8-10 with a 3.25 ERA at Bowie and has made all of 37 major league appearances in parts of four seasons, yet this outing certainly helps his cause.

Luis Matos homered and had three hits for Baltimore. He connected for a solo shot to left-center on a 3-2 pitch from Justin Duchscherer leading off the seventh, helping the Orioles to their first three-game road sweep since April 22-24 at Toronto. They won the first two games here in crazy fashion, and the finale didn’t lack intrigue, either.

In the sixth, Orioles right fielder David Newhan sprinted into foul territory in front of his team’s bullpen trying to make a play on a high popup by Eric Chavez. But bullpen coach Elrod Hendricks jumped out of his seat and Newhan collided with the coach and had no chance at the catch – though it might have kept him from running into the low bullpen roof.

“I was trying to get out of the way, but I’m glad he ran into me,” Hendricks said. “He could have easily gotten hurt.”

The A’s shuffled their lineup to face a left-hander instead of a righty, but had little success against DuBose. Oakland’s four-game skid is the club’s worst since its second eight-game losing streak of the season May 21-29.

“We’re in a funk. We’re going to try to lick our wounds and take a day of rest, then play a tough Kansas City team,” Chavez said sarcastically about the Royals, who lost their club-record 18th straight game Wednesday.

Jay Payton hit a two-run homer in the seventh for the A’s against Jason Grimsley and Mark Kotsay added an RBI groundout.

Todd Williams worked the ninth for his first career save.

Dan Haren (10-9) was tagged for four straight hits to start the second and fell behind 2-0, losing his second straight start following a career-best nine-game winning streak. After Matos singled in the inning, Haren retired eight straight batters before running into more trouble in the fifth.

“It’s pretty tough to keep up like we have done the last two months,” Haren said. “We haven’t been playing good, so we’re not taking any team lightly.”

Rafael Palmeiro was scratched from the Orioles’ lineup because of a sprained right ankle, a day after he had two hits in his second appearance since coming back from a 10-day steroid suspension.

Palmeiro injured the ankle on his sixth-inning infield single Tuesday night and left the stadium before Wednesday’s game to have an X-ray, which was negative. He expects to play first base Friday at Cleveland.

“That’s what I get for not playing two weeks, I guess,” he said. “I was ready to come back out today. I don’t think it’s anything serious.”

Baltimore’s Eric Byrnes finished 0-for-13 in his first series against his former team, which traded the popular outfielder last month. He is 1-for-24 with one RBI in his last seven games.

Notes: Cabrera said his back is “really bad” and it began bothering him 5 minutes into his pregame warmup. He will be re-evaluated Thursday. … The A’s have scored two total runs in the first five innings over their last nine games. … Home-plate umpire Chris Guccione was booed loudly when announced before the game. As the first-base umpire Monday night, he made a controversial ruling when he signaled first baseman Dan Johnson was off the bag on Melvin Mora’s grounder and it cost the A’s the go-ahead run. … Duchscherer allowed his first homer since July 16 against Texas.

AP-ES-08-17-05 2133EDT

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