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July 1, 2013

MLB: Donaldson helps A's rally past Cardinals, 7-5

OAKLAND — Josh Donaldson is pushing for a spot on the American League All-Star team with his bat and glove.

Donaldson homered, reached base safely four times and made a pair of stellar defensive plays, including a tumbling catch while crashing over a roll of infield tarp in foul territory, to help preserve Oakland's 7-5 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on Sunday.

"If someone wants to say that I'm having an All-Star year so far, that's fine," said Donaldson, who also doubled. "I've said it a hundred times, if I just focus on helping our team win and try to do something productive for the team, the individual stuff is going to take care of itself."

Donaldson went into the day ranked in the top five among AL third basemen in batting average, home runs and RBIs but was fifth in the most recently released All-Star voting.

That could change the more the A's win and the more Donaldson flashes his defensive skills.

His catch on Matt Carpenter 's foul in the fourth ended a two-on, two-out threat. Donaldson later made a diving stop on Allen Craig 's grounder to end the seventh with the tying run on second.

Oakland needed it to overcome a rocky outing by starter Tommy Milone .

Milone gave up three home runs and pitched with runners in scoring position in four of the six innings he worked, but got the win after the A's rallied from deficits of 3-0 and 5-2.

"Probably not his best command ... but he fought his way through," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "Against a team like that, to give us six innings, you wouldn't have forcasted that after the first inning."

Jed Lowrie also homered for the A's, who padded their AL-best home record by taking two of three in this interleague series. Oakland has won 16 of its last 19 games at the Coliseum.

Carlos Beltran , Craig and Carpenter homered for the Cardinals.

The slugfest in the series finale was in stark contrast to the first two games when starting pitchers Bartolo Colon of the A's and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals put together dominant performances.

"That was kind of the game I anticipated happening but with us on the other side," St. Louis manager Mike Matheny said. "We came out swinging the bats. I've seen them enough to know this series was going to be like. Today could have gone either way."

Oakland had seven extra-base hits - five off St. Louis starter Jake Westbrook . Westbrook (4-3) lasted just four innings and gave up six runs and 10 hits overall.

Lowrie's go-ahead two-run blast was the big blow, while Donaldson's solo shot off reliever Trevor Rosenthal in the seventh capped the A's best offensive day in two weeks.

Oakland remained a half-game behind Texas in the AL West and improved to 26-13 at home. The A's are also 48-35, their best record after 83 games since 1992.

Milone (7-7) overcame his rocky outing to win for the first time since June 3. Oakland's left-hander allowed seven hits over six innings with five strikeouts and two walks. The three home runs allowed by Milone also matched a season-high.

Sean Doolittle and Ryan Cook each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, and Grant Balfour worked the ninth for his 19th save.

"It makes it a lot easier when we come back and score some runs," Milone said. "We just kept coming back."

St. Louis, which began the day one game behind Pittsburgh in the NL Central, took a pair of early leads but couldn't make them hold up.

Beltran and Craig hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning to give the Cardinals a 3-0 lead. It was Beltran's team-leading 19th homer while Craig's blast was his third on the Cardinals current road trip.

The A's pulled within one when Lowrie singled in Seth Smith and scored on an RBI double by Yoenis Cespedes in the bottom of the inning.

Carpenter's solo home run in the third off Milone made it 4-2. Lowrie, Oakland's shortstop, later let Matt Holliday 's grounder go through his legs and was slow to retrieve the ball, allowing Beltran to score from second.

Oakland scored twice in the third with the help of two errors, and then went ahead 6-5 on Lowrie's two-run homer off Westbrook in the fourth after Chris Young 's leadoff single.

"I just didn't have it," Westbrook said. "It seemed like I was fighting it all day. The ball was all over the place."

 

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