Cespedes hits go-ahead homer as Athletics beat Mariners

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Another dramatic win in hand, the Oakland Athletics gathered around the big screen clubhouse TV and began feasting on Mexican food while watching the Angels and Rangers play the second game of their Texas doubleheader.

The upstart A’s are still chasing an AL West title with three games to go. And that’s about as ideal a scenario as anyone around here could have envisioned in a season full of injuries, sweeping changes and even a drug suspension for key starting pitcher Bartolo Colon.

“Oh, we’re pumped,” third baseman Josh Donaldson said.

Yoenis Cespedes hit a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning to move Oakland a win closer to the club’s first playoff berth in six years, and the A’s beat the Seattle Mariners 5-2 on Sunday to stay right on the heels of Texas in the AL West race.

Cespedes also hit an RBI triple and Brandon Moss had a sacrifice fly in the first inning for the A’s (91-68), who are two games behind Texas (93-66).

The two-time reigning AL champion Rangers come to the Coliseum for the final three games starting Monday with the division crown still up for grabs.

“It’s our choice,” closer Grant Balfour said. “If we go out there and win, good things are going to happen. The way we’re playing right now I feel like we’ve got some good momentum going. We want to keep it rolling all the way through October.”

Oakland leads the Los Angeles Angels (88-71) by three games for the second AL wild card.

Cespedes sent a 1-2 pitch from Shawn Kelley (2-4) towering into the left-field seats for his 23rd homer. He keyed another dramatic victory for the A’s a day after Moss hit a three-run drive in the 10th inning of Oakland’s 14th walkoff win.

Josh Reddick connected with a two-run shot two batters later as the A’s made it a sweep.

But the A’s will have to wait at least one more day to secure a playoff berth. The Angels kept their hopes alive by winning the opener of the doubleheader at Texas.

Oakland dropped its magic number to one for clinching the club’s first playoff berth since 2006. The A’s were swept that year by the Tigers in four games of the AL championship series.

“We’re just going to try to win tomorrow,” manager Bob Melvin said. “I think we’re best suited to just do that and not worry about all the different variables. We’re in the dugout today and all of a sudden the Angels score went up and it’s so emotional this time of year. Your thoughts can go back and forth based on one scoreboard change. It is exciting, it is fun. It’s a bit of a rollercoaster at times.”

Sean Doolittle (2-1) pitched a perfect eighth for the win, and Balfour finished for his 22nd save.

Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak each hit RBI singles in the third as Seattle tied it. The Mariners were 0 for 17 with runners in scoring position this series before Carlos Triunfel’s second-inning single. But Smoak was thrown out at home as the A’s saved a run.

Milone gave way to Pat Neshek with two outs in the fifth and Casper Wells on third with a triple. But Neshek was done after walking Jesus Montero on four pitches.

Jerry Blevins relieved and retired Smoak on a grounder in which Donaldson made a lunging, run-saving stop.

All-Star Ryan Cook allowed Trayvon Robinson’s leadoff single in the seventh, then struck out the side.

The tough losses keep piling up for the Mariners.

“It’s definitely been pretty crazy. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Kelley said. “You don’t like to lose but to keep losing in this fashion is not fun.”

A’s starter Tommy Milone allowed a leadoff double to Franklin Gutierrez to start the game but got out of it unscathed. The left-hander, whose 13 wins are already an Oakland rookie record, allowed two runs and nine hits in 4 2-3 innings. He struck out three and didn’t surrender a walk.

“We feel like we can win every game,” Milone said. “That’s how we’re playing right now.”

Gutierrez, the Seattle center fielder, left the game before the bottom of the third with tightness in his left groin after batting in the top half. Gutierrez, who missed Friday’s series opener after crashing into the wall a day earlier at Anaheim, hit a pair of doubles and scored a run following an 0-for-5 day Saturday. He is day to day.

When Coco Crisp drew a leadoff walk in the third, it ended a 16-inning streak without a free pass for Ramirez. The right-hander walked four to double his total in eight major league starts.

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