OAKLAND -- While the A's offense has been mostly dormant this month, the team as a whole has been mostly dominant. And Sunday's 10-6 win over the Angels was the month of July in microcosm.
The A's pitching has been terrific in July with a 2.99 cumulative ERA, but on Sunday Jarrod Parker gave up four runs in the first and was behind 5-0 after two innings. The offense is only averaging .219 for the month, but when it was needed, the hitters lifted the pitchers on their shoulders.
Yoenis Cespedes, who had just one RBI for the month, drove in four with three hits — a two-run double in the third, an RBI single in the fifth and a run-scoring double in the sixth. Eric Sogard, mostly forgotten at the bottom of the lineup but as tough as anyone in the clutch this month, had three hits as well, driving in the A's first run, then snapping a 6-all tie in the fifth.
That ability rise up as needed, says Parker, speaks eloquently for the A's, who have a season-best six-game lead over Texas in the American League West while at a season-high 19 games above .500.
"So many guys here have yet to play their best baseball," Parker said.
Cespedes enters the final three days of the month with a July to forget — individually. But with a 14-8 record and a chance to record 16 wins for the fourth consecutive month, July has been a case study in getting it done in Oakland.
"I always say this is a team (game)," Cespedes said through interpreter Ariel Prieto. "It's not one. It's not two. It's everyone."
Four of the men expected to be the heart of the A's lineup — Cespedes, Josh Donaldson, Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick — are averaging a combined .223 this month. Donaldson doesn't have an RBI since the All-Star break. Home Run Derby champ Cespedes hasn't homered since June 21. All three, save Donaldson, have struggled most of the year.
And yet the A's find themselves in by far the best position going forward of any team in the AL.
Which is why when the A's and Parker fell behind 5-0, the inevitability of defeat didn't seem to strike, even with their offensive struggles weighing them down.
"I never thought for a moment being down 5-0 that we wouldn't come back and do something," manager Bob Melvin said. "It's tough to come back from five down. But the guys we have here are pretty relentless."
Which is not to say they haven't been frustrated at their offensive struggles. Cespedes has gone so far as to have his locker moved from the far northeast corner of the clubhouse to the far southwest, which is where he resided last year when he had 23 homers and a .292 average.
Asked about the move, Cespedes shrugged it off, but he's gone from a quiet corner to the locker closest to the door leading to the field where noise and movement abounds. Anything to get that old feeling back, it seems.
And it was back Sunday. Sogard's double gave the A's their first run in the third, and with two out and the bases loaded, Cespedes broke through with a double. Two innings later, he caught a break when what should have been an inning-ending fly ball got lost in the sun by Angels center fielder Mike Trout and fell for a game-tying single.
Then in the sixth, it was Cespedes' double that capped a five-run inning that erased a 6-5 Angels' lead and put the game out of reach as the A's matched their biggest comeback of the season.
"That third inning hit was the big one of the day," Sogard said of Cespedes' first double. "It made us believe we were still in the game."
That belief has been tested at times in 2013, but for the most part, the A's keep passing the test.