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Cespedes, A's cruise past Jays

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland A's lost the Home Run Derby but won the game Monday night at the O.co Coliseum, beating the powerful Toronto Blue Jays 9-4 in the opener of a three-game series.

Yoenis Cespedes had the Athletics' only home run, a solo shot to left in the eighth inning that snapped a career-high 25-game homerless streak, while Toronto got home runs from Adam Lind, Brett Lawrie and Edwin Encarnacion.

However, the A's outhit Blue Jays 11-5. Oakland took a 4-0 lead in the first inning, made it 5-0 in the third and 8-1 in the fifth.

Cespedes had a huge night, going 3-for-5 with a triple, a homer and three RBIs. Josh Reddick went 1-for-4 with a double and drove in three runs. Seth Smith had two hits, including a double, and drove in a run.

"Cespedes is definitely important to our lineup," said A's third baseman Josh Donaldson, who snapped an 0-for-17 skid with a fifth-inning single. "He's got every tool you could ask for. More importantly, it's going to take more than just him. It's going to take everybody.

"It was really nice to see (Smith) break out, and it was nice to see Reddick get that double to left-center. If we can continue to get contributions up and down the lineup, it might not be the most terrorizing lineup in the league, but it's definitely going to be a lineup that puts up runs."

A's right-hander A.J. Griffin (10-7) had a perfect game for 4 1/3 innings and held the Blue Jays to three hits through the first six innings, but all of them were home runs. Lind broke up Griffin's perfect game, hammering an 0-2 pitch for an opposite-field homer -- his 13th long ball of the year -- into the left field seats with one out in the fifth.

Lawrie led off the sixth with a monster shot to left, his eighth home run of the season. Then with two outs in the inning, Encarnacion crushed a two-run homer to left-center, his 29th of the season.

Griffin has allowed 26 home runs this season -- the most in the majors -- including eight in his past three games. On Monday, he allowed four runs on four hits over seven innings, striking out five and walking two.

Griffin said that once the A's built a big lead, he was trying to throw strikes and make the Blue Jays swing.

"I was just trying to get ahead of guys and get us back in the dugout as quick as possible," Griffin said. "I got behind a few guys, threw them a fastball and they hit it over the fence. That's their M.O. pretty much. They just go up there and rip it and swing as hard as they can. To come out of there with a good team win, that's the biggest thing, I think. We're just going to try to keep on rolling here."

Blue Jays right-hander Esmil Rogers had allowed a combined seven runs over his previous three starts before facing the A's. Rogers (3-5) gave up a season-high eight runs -- six earned -- on nine hits over 4 1/3 innings Monday.

"I didn't throw any of my pitches consistently for strikes," Rogers said. "It was one of those days. Right now I'm trying to do anything I can to win, but I am still learning."

The A's (63-43) maintained their season-high six-game lead over the Texas Rangers in the American League West and improved to a season-best 20 games over .500.

The last-place Jays (48-57) are 14 1/2 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the AL East.

"We didn't play a good game all the way around," Blue Jays manager John Gibbons said. "We looked dead. It was a less-than-inspiring game. I'll put it that way."

Cespedes, who had four RBIs on Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, provided plenty of inspiration for the A's, who won their fourth straight game.

"He's too good to not have one of these streaks," Griffin said. "He's going to catch fire here, and I feel like we're going to ride him all the way home to the promised land."

NOTES: Encarnacion was named the American League Player of the Week, the third time he has won the award in his career and first time since the week ending Oct. 3, 2010. Encarnacion batted an AL-leading .520 (13-for-25) over seven games last week with three doubles, two home runs, eight RBIs and five walks. ... A's 2B Eric Sogard, who typically hits ninth in the order, hit second for the first time this season Monday night. He went 0-for-4. Manager Bob Melvin said Sogard earned the promotion with his recent hot streak at the plate. "He's been swinging well and deserves to be up there," Melvin said before the game. Sogard entered the game on a career-high seven-game hitting streak, going 11-for-27 (.407) with six runs, four doubles, one home run and six RBIs. ... Lind (sore back) returned to the starting lineup after missing a start Sunday against Houston. He pinch-hit against the Astros, striking out.
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