It may be hard to believe, but the once struggling A’s are only two games under .500 after sweeping the first-place Los Angeles Dodgers.
Yoenis Cespedes crushed a line-drive three-run homer just inside the foul pole in the bottom of the ninth as the A’s beat the Dodgers 4-1 on Thursday.
“All my teammates have been thanking me for all the good things I’ve been doing for the team, but the only thing I was needing was the walk off, so I was happy to be able to do that today,” Cespedes said through his interpreter, former A’s pitcher Ariel Prieto.
The A’s have won eight of their past nine games and will welcome the rival Giants for a three-game weekend series.
John Lindblom replaced Clayton Kershaw in the bottom of the ninth for the Dodgers. Coco Crisp led off with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and reached third on a bunt single by Jemile Weeks. That set it up for Cespedes’ heroics.
“I knew it was fair, but what I didn’t know was if it was a home run,” Cespedes said.
Jonny Gomes doubled to left to lead off the second inning for the A’s. He advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly from Inge.
A’s starter Travis Blackley was perfect through 3¹⁄³ innings, retiring the first 10 batters. Elian Herrera doubled to left-center, giving the Dodgers their first baserunner. With two outs, Juan Rivera reached out and singled down the right-field line to score Herrera, tying the game at 1-1.
Kershaw and Blackley then were toe-to-toe in a pitcher’s duel. Kershaw retired 19 of 21 batters, including 13 consecutive, while Blackley set down eight straight and 12 of 13 Dodgers. Each pitcher allowed only three hits through eight innings.
“Look at Kershaw, I mean he’s a Cy Young award winner,” said Blackley, who was released by the Giants earlier this season. “He’s solid every time he takes the mound, and I knew it was going to be one of those days where it was going to be hard to score. He’s a great pitcher. I just tried to attack the [strike] zone and be economical, and I was.”
A’s closer Ryan Cook came in to pitch the ninth and wound up with the victory.
Notes: Derek Norris, regarded as one of the top catching prospects in baseball, was called up Thursday from Triple-A Sacramento. Norris went 0-for-3 in his debut Thursday. A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters that Norris will split time with Kurt Suzuki, who is batting .215 with no homers and 16 RBI in 60 games. Norris was hitting .273 with eight homers in 55 games for Triple-A Sacramento. ... The A’s have won three straight series for the first time since September 3-12, 2010. ... Oakland starting pitchers have allowed only 22 hits over the first six games of this homestand with a 1.70 ERA.