Posted March 30, 2013 on AP on Fox
Yoenis Cespedes' slow start to spring training is a distant memory. Now Oakland's slugging outfielder is hoping to carry his hot swing into the regular season. Cespedes homered for the second time in three days, a three-run shot off San Francisco starter Ryan Vogelsong, and the Athletics held on to beat the Giants 4-3 on Saturday in the final tuneup for both teams. Unlike his home run two nights earlier off two-time NL Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum - a towering blast at pitcher-friendly AT&T Park - Cespedes' three-run shot off Vogelsong just got over the left field wall and helped cap a big ending to his spring. It also convinced A's manager Bob Melvin that his powerful cleanup hitter is ready to go. ''Anybody else, it's a medium fly ball to left (but) he's just that strong,'' Melvin said. ''He's had a heck of a spring.'' The Cuban slugger, who homered on a hanging changeup from Vogelsong that was on the outer edge of the plate, closed the exhibition schedule on a 13-for-33 tear, with all six of his home runs and 13 RBIs coming over the final 11 games. The six home runs, which came after Cespedes batted just .179 in his first 11 games, are the most by an A's hitter in the spring since 2007. Coco Crisp added two hits and scored twice, and Dan Straily pitched five scoreless innings for his first win since early in spring training. Marco Scutaro had two hits for San Francisco, which played without third baseman Pablo Sandoval. The All-Star third baseman has been bothered by a sore right elbow. One night after being held to four hits, the A's got a boost from the top of their lineup and jumped on Vogelsong early. Crisp and John Jaso combined to score three runs in the first three innings and reached base five times overall, but it was Cespedes who provided the key blow. ''I didn't think he got it good enough but he's so strong he got it over the fence,'' Vogelsong said. ''I thought he hit it off the end of the bat.'' Cespedes' big hit staked Oakland to a 4-0 lead that was enough support for Straily, who won for the first time since Feb. 27. The Oakland right-hander pitched five scoreless innings and finished with five strikeouts. Bartolo Colon, who will miss the first five games of the season to finish off a 50-game PED suspension, replaced Straily and got into trouble in the seventh when he failed to touch first base while covering on Gregor Blanco's grounder. After Joaquin Arias singled, Guillermo Quiroz hit a three-run homer to left that cut the gap to 4-3. Colon settled down after that and later got Quiroz to ground into a game-ending double play in the ninth. The A's success against Vogelsong was even more significant. Crisp and Jaso opened the first inning with back-to-back singles before Josh Reddick blooped a hit just inside the left field line to drive in Crisp. Vogelsong got some help from the Giants defense in the second but wasn't so fortunate in the third. Crisp singled and Jaso walked to open the frame. One out later Cespedes homered, his second in three days. The Giants couldn't get anything going offensively until Colon's error in the seventh set up Quiroz's three-run homer. San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy hoped to get Sandoval into the game but opted to hold the third baseman out and is unsure if he'll have the slugger in the lineup Monday when the Giants open the season against the Dodgers. The World Series MVP, who left Friday's game with discomfort in his irritated right elbow, took batting practice and fielded grounders before the game. Sandoval will go through another workout on Sunday. Seeing Sandoval take BP was an encouraging sign for Bochy, though the Giants haven't ruled out having their All-Star third baseman open the season on the disabled list either. ''That's the last option we want,'' Bochy said before the game. ''We're fairly optimistic we won't have to go that route.'' NOTES: Straily and Colon did not walk a batter and combined for 11 strikeouts. ... Giants SS Brandon Crawford singled in the fourth to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. ... San Francisco backup C Hector Sanchez (shoulder) played in an extended spring training game Saturday and could possibly join the big league club in Los Angeles for the opener, according to Bochy. ... The A's made a series roster moves after the game, including placing SS Hiro Nakajima on the 15-day DL with a strained left hamstring. Oakland also optioned LHP Pedro Figueroa and IF Andy Parrino to Triple-A Sacramento (PCL) and reassigned RHP Mike Ekstrom, LHP Hideki Okajima and C Luke Montz to the minor league camp.
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