SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – Although it’s hardly an honor, the San Francisco 49ers are the best team by the Bay.

Arnaz Battle caught two touchdown passes from Alex Smith, and the 49ers overcame Randy Moss’ 100th career TD reception with a strong second half in a 34-20 victory over the winless Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

Frank Gore rushed for a career-high 134 yards and third-string running back Maurice Hicks scored on a 33-yard screen pass for the rebuilding 49ers (2-3), who scored 24 straight points after halftime to roll past their cross-water rivals in just the iconic franchises’ 11th regular-season meeting.

Such a rare occasion should be cause for excitement in the Bay Area, where pro football is the most popular sport. But these bragging rights aren’t worth much.

The teams are at perhaps the lowest collective point in their histories, with three straight losing seasons apiece and slow starts to this campaign – including a 10-game losing streak for the Raiders, their worst skid in Al Davis’ tenure with the club.

But their last two regular-season meetings since 2000 were decided in overtime, and this one was entertaining even while Smith, Gore and the 49ers’ defense took charge in the second half.

It was over when the Raiders made another of the boneheaded mistakes that have occurred constantly during their second 0-4 start since 1964. With 101/2 minutes to play, LaMont Jordan dropped a lateral pass from Andrew Walter and then stood watching as rookie lineman Melvin Oliver returned the free ball 12 yards for the score, putting San Francisco up 31-13.

Walter threw two interceptions in his second career start and backup Marques Tuiasosopo added two more as the Raiders’ offense struggled again. Moss had five catches for 52 yards despite rarely running hard, and Jordan rushed for 71 yards.

Smith went 15-of-19 for 165 yards in the former No. 1 pick’s fourth victory as a starter in the Niners’ last seven games. Gore had another outstanding game for the 49ers, also picking up 38 yards on three catches – and for the first time this season, he didn’t fumble.

Battle, who had just three touchdowns in his previous 36 NFL games, caught a 4-yard TD pass on San Francisco’s opening drive.

Both teams moved the ball steadily in the first half. But Moss dropped a pass in the end zone after Stanford Routt intercepted Smith’s first throw of the second quarter, and the Raiders had to settle for Sebastian Janikowski’s second field goal.

Oakland went ahead 13-7 late in the second quarter, with Walter coolly directing an 81-yard drive ending in Moss’ 22-yard TD catch between two defenders 51 seconds before halftime. Moss, who has ripped the Raiders’ desire and speculated about being traded this season, is the seventh receiver in NFL history with 100 TD catches.

Rookie linebacker Manny Lawson blocked Shane Lechler’s punt on Oakland’s first possession of the second half, and the Niners went ahead for good on Battle’s second TD catch. Hicks carried a short pass for a score nine minutes later, capping another steady drive.

Courtney Anderson caught a TD pass from Tuiasosopo with 6:23 to play, just the second TD throw of the six-year backup’s career.

AP-ES-10-08-06 1925EDT


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