OAKLAND -- Yoenis Cespedes said he ought to have done more than he did in helping the A's end a four-game losing streak.
Cespedes, in his first game back after missing 15 days with a left hand injury, hit a two-run homer to tie the game with Baltimore at 8-all in the ninth inning. What he really wanted to do was help Eric Sogard score the winning run in the bottom of the 10th.
Sogard did score from second base as the A's averted a sweep at the hands of Baltimore with a 9-8 victory Sunday. But Cespedes wasn't alone in wanting to help Sogard get it done.
At second base with none out after a single and a bunt by Adam Rosales, Sogard lit out for third base when Coco Crisp dropped a bunt along the third base line. O's third baseman Manny Machado picked up the ball and threw behind him to third base, where shortstop J.J. Hardy was covering.
At least that was the plan. The throw was horribly wild, and the only one who didn't seem to know it was Sogard, who was straddling the bag after a headfirst slide. Third base coach Mike Gallego was yelling at him to get up and run home. Sogard didn't hear him. Nor did he hear his teammates, yelling from the nearby dugout, nor the remains of a crowd of 27,475.
"I wanted to go and pick up Sogard and push him home," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto.
He wasn't alone, although helping the base runner in anything other than a verbal way is against the rules.
"James Hoye (the third base umpire) told me he was close to yelling at Sogard to get up and run," Gallego said, laughing. "I think he (Sogard) was the only one in the place who didn't know the ball went into left."
"I heard the whole dugout was yelling at me," Sogard said. "I couldn't really tell. I was still trying to figure out where the ball was. Finally I realized what had happened, thanks to Gags."
Once Sogard got up and beat the throw to the plate, there was finally a time for a celebration, not just for the walk-off win, but for the return of Cespedes, the man without whom the A's just aren't the same.
The celebration included a pie to the face of Sogard from right fielder Josh Reddick and a swarming of Crisp at first base after his decisive bunt. And it included a big welcome back to the cleanup hitter.
"We've all been on teams that have had good players go down to injuries," Seth Smith said. It was Smith's two-run homer in the seventh that got Oakland into a 6-6 tie after having been down 5-0 early. "But Cespedes is a different animal. He's something else." "You saw it from Cespedes right there," Sogard said. "Down by two in the ninth. Then he does that. He's a tremendous part of our offense."
The A's got out to a 9-2 start to the season with Cespedes healthy, then they went 4-10 while he was disabled. Now they've won his first game back.
Oakland is 92-48 since the start of 2012 when Cespedes is in the lineup. The A's are 16-32 when he's not.