OAKLAND (AP) ― His tender left hand and sore left hamstring both on ice after a big day, Yoenis Cespedes shared how he reminded himself to keep the celebration to a minimum. Just a standard jump for joy at home plate, nothing fancy that could lead to further injuries.
“No chance,” he said with a smile, in perfect English.
The rookie Cuban slugger hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning for his first career game-ending shot, lifting the Oakland Athletics to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Thursday to complete their first home sweep of 2012.
Cespedes connected with no outs off Josh Lindblom (2-1), sending a drive just inside the left-field foul pole. This marked just his second game back in the starting lineup after he had just one at-bat the previous 10 games because of the hamstring injury.
“I knew it was in fair territory, but I didn’t know it would be a home run,” Cespedes said. “I’m very happy. My teammates said, ‘You always do so much, you’ve hit key home runs to put us ahead, but you still need a walkoff.’”
Oakland won for the eighth time in nine games after holding the NL’s best team to eight total hits in the three-game series.
Starters Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Travis Blackley each excelled. They both allowed one run on just three hits in eight innings. Blackley walked none and struck out six while the NL Cy Young winner fanned seven and walked two.
Coco Crisp drew a leadoff walk from Lindblom in the ninth and advanced on a wild pitch. Crisp moved to third on Jemile Weeks’ infield single on which Lindblom fielded the ball and looked to third and then first but didn’t make a throw.
“In that situation they had the momentum on their side,” Lindblom said. “Coming in at the start of an inning and walking the leadoff guy is unacceptable, especially in a tie game.”
Cespedes then hit his seventh home run of the season and the A’s won their sixth in a row at home in the series with L.A. The Dodgers don’t have a victory here since 2001 and are 2-12 overall at the Oakland Coliseum since 1997.
Ryan Cook (2-1) relieved Blackley in the ninth. Ninth-place batter Matt Treanor drew a walk, Dee Gordon bunted into a forceout on which third baseman Brandon Inge fired to second and then the Dodgers speedster was caught stealing on an outstanding throw by new A’s catcher Derek Norris in his major league debut.
Even Inge’s teammates doubted he could make the play at second.
“Yeah, it’s a tough play,” Inge said. “Looking back on it, I’m glad it worked out. Kind of a risky play.”
The Dodgers were swept for just the second time this season. They dropped four in a row to Milwaukee at home in late May.
Inge had a sacrifice fly in the second as Oakland took an early lead, then Juan Rivera hit a tying RBI single in the fourth. That was all the Dodgers could muster for Kershaw, who is pitching with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
“It’s fun to win, it’s fun to pitch well,” Kershaw said. “When you’re not winning, or not pitching up to expectations there’s a little frustration. It’s frustrating when you’re trying to keep the team in the game.”
Blackley retired the first 10 batters before Elian Herrera’s one-out double in the fourth.
Nationals 5, rays 2
Rockies 4, Phillies 1
Tigers 2, Cardinals 1
Pirates 9, Twins 1
Athletics 4, Dodgers 1
Red Sox 6, Marlins 5
Blackley faced only one three-ball count all afternoon, and this was his deepest outing. The Australian left-hander made his fifth start since being claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants on May 15.
Norris was called up from Triple-A Sacramento before the game to share the catching duties with Kurt Suzuki. Norris came to the A’s in the trade last December that sent All-Star lefty Gio Gonzalez to Washington.
“It couldn’t have ended better,” said Norris, stuck in traffic for two hours early Thursday on the 80-mile drive from Sacramento.
Crisp’s franchise record streak of 36 successful steals ended when he was thrown out at second in the first inning.