Yoenis Cespedes struck out looking in his first at-bat, then quickly regained the stroke that has made him such a central part of the Athletics’ lineup.
On a day when Oakland’s pitching wasn’t crisp, the Cuban slugger’s timing couldn’t have been better.
Cespedes had three hits and matched his career high with four RBI on his most productive day since winning the Home Run Derby, and the A’s rallied from five runs down to beat the Los Angeles Angels 10-6 on Sunday.
”I’ve been working a lot, every single day, to try to get the swing that I got today,” Cespedes said. ”I didn’t feel really well in the first at-bat but after that I started to feel comfortable.”
Cespedes snapped an 0-for-13 funk with a two-run double in the third inning, added an RBI single in the fifth and then doubled in Josh Donaldson as part of a five-run sixth. It was Cespedes’ first game with multiple RBIs since June 21.
Eric Sogard added three hits and two RBIs, and Brandon Moss also drove in a pair for Oakland. The A’s (62-43) moved a season-high 19 games over .500 and extended their lead to six games over Texas in the AL West.
”That was big,” manager Bob Melvin said. ”We’ve had some guys struggling, and then someone else shows up … and then someone else shows up. We still have some guys struggling, but we manage to either get just enough or keep adding on like today.”
Erick Aybar doubled and tripled for the Angels, who placed Albert Pujols on the disabled list before the game with a tear in his left foot that could end his season.
The A’s took two of the first three games in this series primarily on the strength of their starting pitching. They got a big boost from their offense in the finale and a little help from the Angels’ defense along the way.
Cespedes provided the biggest lift with his third three-hit game of the season. He went down looking in his first at-bat before his double in the third helped jump-start Oakland’s comeback from a 5-0 deficit.
He later hit a towering popup in the fifth that landed for an RBI single when Angels center fielder Mike Trout lost it in the sun. The ball fell between Trout and right fielder Kole Calhoun as Moss scored from first with the tying run.
”You can’t catch what you can’t see,” Trout said. ”I had a good (read) on it but the last three or four steps it just went away. I couldn’t do anything about it.”
Trout had more fielding problems in the sixth after the Angels went up 6-5 on Aybar’s double.
Stephen Vogt hit a sinking fly to center that bounced in front of Trout just as he nearly collided with Josh Hamilton racing over from left field. The ball landed in front of the two outfielders and rolled to the warning track as both players fell to the turf. Seth Smith scored on the play to tie it 6-all.
Sogard followed with a single off reliever J.C. Gutierrez (0-2) to drive in Vogt with the go-ahead run, then scored on Jed Lowrie’s RBI double to give the A’s an 8-6 lead. Moss and Cespedes also had RBIs in the inning.
”This team knows better than anybody that we have a great shot of making a run and coming back there,” said Sogard, who extended his career-high hitting streak to seven games. ”Sure enough we made it happen. Pitching wasn’t there in the beginning and the bats picked it up, but pitching was there later and shut them down.”
Jesse Chavez (2-2) worked two innings for the win.
The Angels lost for the seventh time in nine road games and fell a season-high 13 games out of first place.
Before the game, manager Mike Scioscia announced that Pujols had been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a partially torn plantar fascia, an injury that has bothered him most of the season. He aggravated it while running out a single in the ninth inning of Friday’s 6-4 loss to Oakland.
”This is something that, talking to Albert, has been going on for six or seven years,” Scioscia said. ”It’s been going on for a long time and he’s managed it. This is a big blow to our team right now.”
Although surgery seems unlikely, Scioscia did not rule out Pujols being sidelined the remainder of the season.
The news didn’t get any better on the field.
Tommy Hanson was staked to a five-run lead after two innings but struggled with his command and was gone in the fifth. Hanson struck out five and allowed four hits but walked five – three of which scored.
Oakland starter Jarrod Parker wasn’t much better. He walked a career-high seven, but the A’s got him off the hook.
The Angels jumped on Parker early when they scored four times and sent 10 batters to the plate in the first inning. Howie Kendrick and Mark Trumbo both drove in runs, and Alberto Callaspo added a two-run single.
After Aybar tripled leading off the second, Kendrick hit into a fielder’s choice to make it 5-0.
NOTES: Smith is hitless in his last 29 at-bats. … Angels RHP Billy Buckner, designated for assignment Thursday, cleared waivers and reported to Triple-A Salt Lake. … Los Angeles RHP Jered Weaver (5-5) pitches the series opener against Texas on Monday. He has not allowed a run over his last two starts. … A’s LHP Brett Anderson (sprained right ankle) will throw a bullpen session and face hitters on Tuesday.