OAKLAND -- The heroes change each night for the A's. The results remain the same.

On Saturday, it was Jarrod Parker becoming the latest rookie starter to shut down the New York Yankees. It was Brandon Inge supplying the big hit with a go-ahead home run in the bottom of the eighth.

The result: A 2-1 victory that leaves the A's one win away from a four-game sweep of the team that arrived Thursday with the major leagues' best record.

The A's, once expected to fight the Seattle Mariners for last place in the American League West, are tied with the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles for the second A.L. wild-card spot at 50-44.

"What can you say?" Inge said. "What you guys see is what we feel right now. We're having a blast, and I think that's leading a lot to the way we're playing."

Parker (7-4) was terrific over eight innings, holding the Yankees to five hits with one walk and five strikeouts.

The A's sent three consecutive rookie starters to the mound to begin this series -- Parker, A.J. Griffin and Tommy Milone -- and they combined to allow just three runs over 21 innings.

But the pitching storyline doesn't end with them. With closer Ryan Cook unavailable after pitching three consecutive days, fellow rookie Sean Doolittle came on for the ninth.

He allowed a leadoff single to Alex Rodriguez, then struck out Robinson Cano, Mark Teixeira and Andruw Jones for his first major league save.


Advertisement

A year ago at this time, Doolittle was playing first base and trying to come back from multiple knee surgeries.

"Talk about coming a long way," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "A guy who starts out (pitching) in instructional league last year, and now he closes the game against the Yankees. That's a goose-bump-type thing."

Parker gave up his only run in the fourth when Raul Ibanez grounded a single up the middle that scored Rodriguez. The A's answered in the bottom half, when Yoenis Cespedes drove a two-out homer deep to left field off Phil Hughes (9-8)

Then Inge led off the bottom of the eighth by driving a homer off the concrete facing above the wall in right-center to give the A's a 2-1 lead.

"He told me, 'I'm going to get you one here,' and he did," Parker said. "That's pretty sweet that he went up there and he did it."

The A's have won 13 of 15 games in July and moved to six games over .500 for the first time since July 18, 2008. They're just a half-game behind the Los Angeles Angels for second place in the A.L. West.

It's no wonder Melvin said before the game that this team reminds him of the 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks club he managed to the National League West crown. That team also relied heavily on young players and defied low expectations to finish 90-72 and advance to the N.L. Championship Series.

Interesting to note: Arizona won the division despite finishing last in the league in batting average (.250). The A's .228 average is last in the majors.

The Diamondbacks also excelled in one-run games, going 32-20. The A's are 15-12 in one-run contests but have won their past seven, their longest such streak since a seven-gamer in June 2006.

They have also won their past four contests by one run, matching the longest streak in Oakland history.

  • Cespedes is 18 for 31 with four homers and nine RBIs in eight games since the All-Star break. He said the four-day rest was good for his body.

    Cespedes is showing the ability to hit the ball up the middle and to the opposite field, but he turned on a 2-1 pitch from Hughes and mashed it into the left-field seats, nearly hitting a Cuban flag hanging in the bleachers in his honor.

    "I just try to have good patience and find a good pitch and make good contact," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "I didn't even know if the ball hit the flag or was close."

    Added Melvin: "I don't want to say he's getting more confident, because he's about as confident as you can get."

  • Brandon McCarthy and Dallas Braden threw off the mound, used all of their pitches and came out of it well.

    Braden, who has been out all season recovering from shoulder surgery, said he will throw off the mound in Single-A Stockton on Tuesday and then fly to Phoenix and face hitters Friday.

    Braden worked Saturday on an adjustment he is making with the positioning of his hands as he starts his delivery.

    "It's mechanical stuff, just different ways to take pressure off my shoulder," he said.

  • Left-hander Brett Anderson had his first rehab start in Stockton on Saturday. He pitched two innings, giving up two runs and four hits against High Desert.

  • The A's drew 28,142 fans Saturday, a significant increase over the first two games of the series, but the third consecutive non-sellout with the Yankees in town.

    This during a time when the A's are the hottest team in the majors and New York arrived with the best record.

    For more on the A's, go to Joe Stiglich's blog at ibabuzz.com/athletics and follow him at twitter.com/joestiglich.