Fifth-inning homers send A's past Indians
OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland A's have come up with a near foolproof formula for success this season.
When the A's out-homer their opponent, they almost always win. It happened again Sunday afternoon, when Chris Young and Alberto Callaspo hit solo home runs in the fifth inning, powering the A's to a 7-3 victory over the Cleveland Indians at the O.co Coliseum.
The A's hit two homers to one for Cleveland -- Ryan Raburn's solo shot in the second -- and improved to a major-league-best 44-5 when they win the home run derby.
Young sent left-hander Scott Kazmir's 3-2 fastball high and deep into the left field seats with one out in the fifth, breaking a 3-3 tie. Two batters later, Callaspo hit his first home run as an Athletic and sixth of the season, sending Kazmir's 0-1 fastball over the left field fence.
The A's padded their lead with two unearned runs in the eighth.
"He had been pitching me pretty tough," said Young, who made a spectacular, run-saving catch in the top of the eighth. "The first 3-2 pitch, he gave me a changeup. I was able to fight it off and kind of get the pitch I was looking for more. I was out in front of the changeup. I was still sitting fastball, hoping he'd come over the plate with the heater and give me a chance with no runners on base. Normally pitchers will take a little gamble with it. I was able to square one up."
Young was robbed a walk-off homer Wednesday in a loss to Houston and had a potential walk-off blast go just foul the night before in another loss. This time he sent his shot to left-center and made sure no one would be able to catch it.
"With my luck, I assumed it was going to hit the top of the wall or something," said Young, who went 2-for-4 and drove in two runs. "So I was busting it out of the box just in case, but I had a pretty good idea that I got it."
Callaspo went 3-for-4 and scored twice, atoning for a throwing error he committed at third base that led to two unearned runs in top of the fifth.
"It felt pretty good," Callaspo said of the homer. "It's baseball, and errors are going to happen in the game. I'm glad I got the home run to get the run back."
Dan Otero (2-0) earned the win, pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings in relief of left-hander Tommy Milone. Otero, Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour combined to blank the Indians on three hits over the final 4 1/3 innings.
"That's two games where they've beat us when we've got to their bullpen early," Indians manager Terry Francona said, who was also referencing Friday's series opener. "They use them very effectively. They can match up."
Milone was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento and started in place of Bartolo Colon, who went on the disabled list with a strained left groin. Milone gave up three runs (one earned) over 4 2/3 innings.
Milone made his first start for the A's since Aug. 2, when he allowed six runs on nine hits and lasted just 3 2/3 innings in an 8-3 loss to the Texas Rangers. The next day, he was sent down to Sacramento.
"I felt a little more energy," Milone said. "Getting sent down obviously is not something I wanted to happen. It's something that might be a good thing down the road, but we'll see."
The A's pulled to within one-half game of first-place Texas in the American League West. Cleveland fell seven games behind Detroit in the AL Central and 4 1/2 behind Oakland in the race for the second AL wild-card spot. After being swept four games at Cleveland in May, the A's won this series 2-1.
"It's go time," said Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, who had two hits. "We don't have time to sit around and feel sorry for ourselves about losing two of three here."
Kazmir (7-6), making his first start since Aug. 9, gave up five runs and 10 hits in five innings. He pitched on eight days' rest after a rough outing against the Angels. The extended rest appeared to revive his arm. His fastball often hit 94-95 mph.
"I feel fine," Kazmir said. "I wasn't able to hit my spots, especially early. I threw a lot of pitches early, and that took its toll going into the later innings. We tie the game up and we needed that shut-down inning. I just didn't do that."
NOTES: A's LHP Brett Anderson (right foot stress fracture/right ankle sprain) will make his second rehab start Thursday and might be activated after that, if all goes well, manager Bob Melvin said. Melvin said Anderson would pitch either at home for Class A Stockton or for Sacramento at Colorado Springs. ... A's CF Coco Crisp (strained left wrist) was out of the starting lineup for the seventh straight game.