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Norris drives in four as A's top Yankees

The SportsXchange

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The game between the A's and Yankees on Tuesday shaped up as a likely pitcher's duel featuring a pair of former Cy Young Award winners, Oakland's Bartolo Colon and New York's CC Sabathia.

Colon held up his end of the bargain, blanking the Yankees for six innings on three hits, but Sabathia had a rough night before family and friends in his latest Bay Area homecoming at the Coliseum.

A's center fielder Coco Crisp lined a solo home run in the first and catcher Derek Norris hammered a three-run shot in the fourth inning, powering the A's to a 6-4 victory in the opener of their three-game series.

Norris drove in a career-high four runs, and Nate Freiman went 3-for-4 as the A's beat the Yankees for the third time in four games and the eighth time in 11 games this season.

Colon won his fifth straight decision and improved to 8-2. He walked a season-high four and struck out three. During his winning streak, Colon has allowed just three runs over 36 innings, lowering his ERA from 4.56 to 2.92.

"Even though he went out there and did his thing, it's probably not his best stuff of the year. But six innings, no runs, still pretty good," A's manager Bob Melvin said.

Sabathia, a native of the East Bay city of Vallejo, gave up six runs on eight hits over six innings as his record fell to 6-5 and his ERA rose from 3.74 to 4.07. He struck out three, walked one and threw a wild pitch that brought Josh Donaldson home from third in the sixth inning.

"There was no real life to the fastball but I (went) out there and battled and tried to keep us in the game, and I couldn't do that today," Sabathia said.

After falling behind 6-0, the Yankees scored twice in the eighth off Jerry Blevins, getting RBI singles from Mark Teixeira and pinch hitter Vernon Wells. They scored two more runs in the ninth on a single by Teixeira.

Grant Balfour got his 34th straight save, but the Yankees made him work. With Teixeira on first, Travis Hafner sent a fly ball to deep left-center that Seth Smith caught at the wall.

"Not a chance that it was going out. It was a worry that it was going to hit off the wall a little too high," said Balfour, who is the only American League closer without a blown save this season, a perfect 16-for-16. "To me it was never going out."

The A's took a 1-0 lead when Crisp, playing despite a sore left heel, lined Sabathia's second pitch of the game over the left field fence for his eighth home run of the season. It was Crisp's third leadoff home run of the season and 11th overall (nine with the A's).

"That's awesome," Freiman said of Crisp's leadoff homer. "Coco is everything you want in a leadoff hitter. He's a sparkplug, gets on base, steals bases. Exciting player and then he'll do that and get everyone fired up. That was a nice way to start."

Oakland increased the lead to 2-0 in the second on Norris' bloop double down the right-field line, which scored Josh Reddick all the way from first. Lyle Overbay, starting in right field for just the fourth time this season, couldn't get to the shallow fly in time to catch it, and the ball one-hopped off his glove. Reddick easily beat Overbay's throw home.

In the bottom of the fifth, Freiman and Chris Young hit back-to-back singles off Sabathia. Then with two outs, Norris lined Sabathia's first pitch over the left-center wall for a three-run homer, putting the A's ahead 5-0.

"Anytime I can contribute to get some runs across the board to help out our ballclub I'm obviously going to take advantage of any chance I get," said Norris, who entered the game hitting .194. "It was just a get-me-over slider, kind of backdoor and it just kind of came across the middle."

A's left fielder Yoenis Cespedes left the game after the second inning because of tightness in his left hamstring. He appeared to be in pain after running hard to first on a ground out in the bottom of the first but remained in the game for one more inning.

"You get a much better indication the next day as far as hamstrings," Melvin said. "Hopefully we caught it at the right time. He felt like he could have played a little bit more, but we don't want to fool around with a hamstring. He's literally day to day at this point."

NOTES: Cano was named American League captain for the Home Run Derby next month at Citi Field, home of the Mets. Cano won the event two years ago and was the AL derby captain last year at Kansas City's Kauffman Stadium. Captains choose their derby teammates, and Cano was loudly booed last year for not choosing Royals 1B Billy Butler to be on the four-man squad. Asked if he'd choose Butler this year, Cano laughed and said, "No chance." Cano said his father, Jose Cano, will pitch to him for the third straight year. "Right now we're .500, 1-for-2," he said. ... Yankees first-round draft pick Aaron Judge, a 6-foot-7, 255-pound outfielder from Fresno State, took batting practice at the Coliseum before Tuesday's game and impressed Girardi. "He can hit some homers," Girardi said of Judge, the No. 32 overall pick last week. "The ball really jumps off his bat. Strong kid. He was pretty impressive today." ... New York SS Derek Jeter (fractured left ankle) is scheduled to be examined Thursday by Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., and Girardi said he expects him to get "full clearance" for baseball activities. "But you never know," Girardi added. Jeter has been hitting off a tee, doing soft toss drills and taking "some light ground balls on the grass" at the Yankees' training complex in Tampa, Fla. ... The A's have faced a heavy diet of left-handed starting pitchers, but that's about to change. According to manager Bob Melvin, Oakland is likely to face right-handers in 18 of the next 19 games, beginning Wednesday against Yankees RHP Phil Hughes. That means the A's lineup often will be packed with left-handed hitters.

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