Luke Montz hit his first homer in almost five years, Yoenis Céspedes hit his first big-league homer with his mother in attendance and Josh Donaldson hit his first ball out in 19 games.
The power trio was just enough, combined with strong starting pitching and a dramatic closer performance, to give the A's a 5-4 victory over the Yankees on Sunday. Oakland took two of three in the Bronx, has won five of its past seven games overall and is one game behind Texas in the AL West.
Rookie Dan Straily pitched well enough to get the win, but a rare poor outing by left-hander Jerry Blevins enabled the Yankees to tie the score in the sixth. Then, with a shot into the second deck in the corner in left with one out in the eighth, Donaldson had his first homer since April 12.
"It felt like it had been forever," said Donaldson, who was looking for a fastball from lefty Boone Logan. "It felt good to hit one like that again."
In the ninth, Grant Balfour allowed a base hit up the middle by Brett Gardner with two outs, then wild-pitched Gardner to second base. At that point, manager Bob Melvin had him intentionally walk Robinson Cano, bringing up Vernon Wells, 6-for-12 lifetime against Balfour with two homers.
Melvin said that it was a difficult decision, but he was thinking mostly about the short porch in right.
"Trust me, I know 6-for-12 with two homers is sitting right behind Cano," Melvin said. "But in this ballpark, the way Cano is swinging, that's a better option for me."
Balfour had wanted to face Cano, liking his chances with a 1-1 count. "You want to face everyone, get everyone out," he said.
Balfour struck out Wells to end the game. Balfour converted his 23rd consecutive save opportunity, a streak that had started precisely one year ago Sunday.