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Oakland Athletics Josh Donaldson hits a solo home run in the eighth inning of an MLB American League baseball game against the New York Yankees in New York on Sunday, May 5, 2013. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan)

NEW YORK -- The most difficult part of playing at Yankee Stadium is fighting the expectations game.

The Yankees, buoyed by their decades of success, expect to win.

Over the weekend, they met another team that does, the A's. Oakland won 5-4 on Sunday to take two of three in the Bronx, slowing down one of the hottest teams in the American League.

The A's saw leads of 1-0 and 4-1 evaporate before celebrating when Josh Donaldson crushed an eighth-inning homer into the second deck in left field.

Oakland had to survive a two-on, two-out jam in the ninth before Grant Balfour struck out Vernon Wells to finish up.

"We played a complete game," Donaldson said. "I feel real good about the way we played here this weekend."

Oakland Athletics Josh Donaldson, left, celebrates as he crosses the plate near New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart after hitting  a solo home run in
Oakland Athletics Josh Donaldson, left, celebrates as he crosses the plate near New York Yankees catcher Chris Stewart after hitting a solo home run in the eighth inning of an MLB American League baseball game in New York on Sunday, May 5, 2013. Oakland won the game 5-4. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan) ( Peter Morgan )

Manager Bob Melvin saw Balfour get two quick outs in the ninth before a broken-bat single by Brett Gardner and a wild pitch put the potential tying run at second base. Melvin's options were to pitch to Robinson Cano, perhaps the most electric hitter in the Yankees' lineup, or Wells, who has come over from the Los Angeles Angels to provide an injury-scarred lineup with six homers and 13 RBIs.

Melvin had right-hander Balfour walk the left-handed-hitting Cano, setting up a matchup with the right-handed-hitting Wells.

"I've managed here enough to know you not only need to get 27 outs, you need to get the third strike on that 27th out," Melvin said. "I knew what the matchups were. But in this park, walking Cano was the better option.


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"The right-field seats come into play when you think about it. But it's not an easy decision."

Balfour, who struck out Wells with high heat, was unhappy he was told to walk Cano, who came in 4 for 12 (.333) against him, in a situation where a single would tie the score.

Wells was 6 for 12 against Balfour with two homers.

"I know the history," Balfour said. "I want to face everyone. You want to get everyone out. I guess I got lucky (considering) my history with Wells."

It wasn't luck so much, not with 23 consecutive saves, a streak that began a year ago Sunday.

But it wasn't all Balfour, either. It was a victory forged by many different blacksmiths. Luke Montz hit his first home run as a big leaguer since 2008 in the fourth inning for a 2-1 lead. Yoenis Cespedes, playing as a major leaguer this weekend in front of his mother for the first time, hit a two-run homer in the fifth. Josh Reddick came off the bench with his first career hit in Yankee Stadium and made a nice running catch to start the ninth inning.

Dan Straily outpitched one of his idols, Andy Pettitte, and left with a 4-1 lead that Jerry Blevins failed to protect. Blevins was succeeded by Sean Doolittle, Ryan Cook and Balfour, who each threw a shutout inning.

"We had a nice little lead there, and for the first time really all year, Jerry gave up a couple of hits, and they got back into it," Melvin said. "What's difficult (in Yankee Stadium) sometimes is picking yourself back up and going out there and expecting to win and continuing to grind on it. And we did.

"We got contributions across the board today, and in different ways. Sometimes it takes a whole group to win a ballgame, and today that was the case."

"This was a good series for us," Donaldson said. "We'd played some series where we'd hit but maybe didn't pitch. This was us playing a complete game."

  • Chris Young (quad) returned to Oakland, where he and will join Brett Anderson (ankle) and Coco Crisp (hamstring) in rehabbing injuries.

  • Hiro Nakajima (hamstring) didn't play Sunday for Triple-A Sacramento. The infielder had some pain Friday after his debut with the River Cats, and when he wasn't ready to go, the decision was made to have him checked out Monday in Oakland.