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Cespedes' 14th-inning blast helps A's overtake White Sox

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND -- The Oakland A's had gone seven consecutive innings without scoring a run and trailed the Chicago White Sox 4-2 when Yoenis Cespedes stepped to the plate in the bottom of the 14th with one out and Josh Reddick on first.

Moments later, Cespedes crushed Hector Santiago's 2-2 changeup deep into the seats beyond left-center field, and the A's had new life.

The A's then strung together singles by Seth Smith, Kurt Suzuki and Kila Ka'aihue, with Ka'aihue's bloop down the left field line scoring Smith with the winning run in a 5-4 victory.

"It was perfect timing," A's second baseman Jemile Weeks said of Cespedes' blast, his fifth home run of the season. "We knew he could do it. He has the power. That's the guy we want up there in that situation."

Cespedes said he had studied Santiago while the Chicago closer warmed up that inning.

"Then I went over and asked (hitting coach) Chili (Davis) what the guy throws," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "He said he throws a fastball, throws a slider and throws a changeup, but it looks like a screwball. So when he got two strikes, I was only looking for something to make contact on, and I hit it out far enough that it left the park."

Santiago gave Cespedes credit for hitting a tough pitch.

"I thought I made a great pitch to Cespedes, especially going fastball away and then throwing that off-speed changeup," Santiago said. "From the video I saw, he was out in front. He just got a hold on it. He swings real hard, you know?"

White Sox designated hitter Paul Konerko hit his 400th career home run, a game-tying solo shot in the top of the ninth.

The A's took had taken 2-1 lead into the ninth and brought in closer Grant Balfour, who was a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities.

Konerko crushed Balfour's first pitch deep over the left field wall, knotting the score 2-2. Konerko became the fourth player in White Sox history to reach the milestone. He ranks 48th on baseball's all-time home run list, seven behind Duke Snider in 47th.

"The round numbers, everybody likes the round numbers," Konerko said. "When it comes to that kind of stuff, I think when I'm done playing and look back, that's when it'll hit home more. But when you're in the middle of the grind and you're grinding every day and working, you tend not to think about that stuff, and you probably shouldn't. You just want to go on to the next thing.

"Hopefully if I'm doing my job right, that's what I am doing. But hey, it's nice. Every time I've got to 100 or whatever it is, you never think you're going to get to the next one."

The White Sox took a 4-2 lead in the top of the 14th on Alexei Ramirez's two-run double off right-hander Jim Miller, who made his A's debut after being called up from Triple-A Sacramento.

Leading off the inning against left-hander Jerry Blevins, Dayan Viciedo reached on an error by A's third baseman Eric Sogard, who couldn't field a soft grounder. Viciedo moved to second on a sacrifice bunt, and after Blevins walked Alejandro De Aza, Miller took over for Blevins. Ramirez ripped Miller's second pitch for a double.

The White Sox bullpen was dominant from the ninth through the 13th innings.

Addison Reed pitched a scoreless ninth, striking out two as the A's stranded a runner at second. Matt Thornton pitched a scoreless 10th, striking out the side. Will Ohman had a one-two-three 11th, and Nate Jones blanked the A's in the 12th and 13th, allowing just one base runner on a bloop single.

The White Sox blew a great chance to take the lead in the top of the 13th after Adam Dunn led off with a double off Blevins and the A's intentionally walked Konerko. A's catcher Suzuki picked off pinch runner Brent Lillibridge at second after A.J. Pierzynski squared to bunt but took a pitch.

With two outs and pinch runner Gordon Beckham on first, Alex Rios ripped a double down the left field line that rolled into the A's bullpen. Third base coach Joe McEwing waved Beckham in, but the A's got him on a close play at the plate on a relay from shortstop Cliff Pennington to Sogard to Suzuki.

The game began as a pitching duel between two promising 23-year-olds, Chicago's Chris Sale and Oakland's Jarrod Parker, who made his A's debut.

Neither one earned a decision, but both had impressive outings.

Sale allowed two runs on six hits over eight innings, striking out five and walking none. Parker, who was called up Wednesday from Triple-A Sacramento, allowed just one run on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out five and walked one before exiting with a 2-1 lead.

"I grew up a White Sox fan, so I was excited to throw against them and see some of those guys, and obviously a win puts icing on the cake," said Parker, who grew up in Ossian, Ind. "That was awesome. That's all you can ask for. They came back. We came back."

The A's broke through to take a 2-0 lead off Sale in the sixth. Weeks grounded a one-out single to left and scored when Reddick roped a two-out double to right-center. Cespedes brought Reddick home with a single to center.

The White Sox answered with a run in the seventh off Parker, ending a streak of 15 scoreless innings by Oakland pitching.

With one out, Rios blooped a single to right. Kosuke Fukudome followed with an RBI double to center and took third on the throw to the plate.

That was it for Parker, who gave way to right-handed reliever Ryan Cook.

Brent Morel, hitting .172 entering the game, came to the plate, and the White Sox tried to pull even with a squeeze play. The move backfired.

Morel couldn't make connect, and Fukudome was caught in a rundown and quickly tagged out by Sogard. Morel then struck out.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said it was supposed to be a safety squeeze, not a suicide squeeze.

"It was more of he was going to get it down first, and if he got it down, (Fukudome) was going to run, so just a little mixup," Ventura said. "That my fault."

NOTES: The A's made four roster moves before Wednesday's game, recalling Parker and Miller from Sacramento, optioning right-hander reliever Fautino De Los Santos to Triple-A and designating right-handed reliever Rich Thompson for assignment. ... Fukudome made his fifth start of the season for the White Sox, replacing Viciedo in left. Eduardo Escobar made his fourth start of the season and third at second base, replacing Beckham. ... A's left fielder Coco Crisp, battling a nasty head cold and inner-ear problem, was out of the lineup for the seventh time in the past eight games, and third baseman Luke Hughes was sidelined by the flu. ... White Sox right-handed reliever Jesse Crain, who hasn't pitched since Friday, told the Chicago Tribune he is battling a left oblique injury. He was unavailable Wednesday but plans to throw a bullpen session Thursday.
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