After a superb series opener, Cespedes will try to help the A's top the Seattle Mariners again Saturday night while maintaining sole possession of the AL West lead.
A sore left hamstring kept Cespedes as Oakland's designated hitter for seven straight games, and he was 4 for 28 (.143) with 10 strikeouts and one RBI. While getting the chance to return to left field Friday, the Cuban slugger ended an 11-game homerless drought as he went deep twice in a 6-3 win.
Before hurting his hamstring June 11, Cespedes was batting .297 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in his previous 22 games.
"It feels great to play in the outfield," Cespedes said through an interpreter. "When I'm in the outfield, my body's completely up, my body's on fire. The difference is when I'm a DH and I sit down in the dugout and I'm doing nothing, I feel like I'm going down a little bit."
Coco Crisp and Jed Lowrie also homered as the A's (44-32) stayed one game in front of Texas in the division. Oakland lost three of four to the Rangers earlier this week after dropping two of three to the visiting Mariners.
Dan Straily (4-2, 4.97 ERA) is certainly hoping to perform better against Seattle (32-43). The right-hander is 0-1 with an 8.68 ERA in two career matchups and gave up six runs over five innings in a 6-3 defeat at Safeco Field on May 10.
Straily has won three straight decisions but allowed six runs in 4 2-3 innings in his latest start Monday, an 8-7 defeat in Texas. He gave up two home runs after allowing none in his prior six outings.
"I was up in the strike zone. They were aggressive and I just got beat, plain and simple," Straily said.
Aaron Harang (3-7, 5.28), meanwhile, will seek to return to the form he showed in a pair of recent shutouts. The right-hander recorded the second of those June 11 against visiting Houston - a two-hitter with 10 strikeouts - but he struggled in an 11-3 road loss to the Los Angeles Angels on Monday.
Three of the four runs Harang allowed were unearned, but he gave up a season-high 11 hits in five innings.
"They had quite a few hits in a short period of time, and (Harang) was fortunate to get out of there with just four runs," manager Eric Wedge said.
Harang walked a career-high eight batters and lasted only 3 2-3 innings in his only start against Oakland, a 3-0 loss June 19, 2012, when he was with the Los Angeles Dodgers .
Cespedes is 5 for 13 (.385) in his last three games against Seattle but has never faced Harang.
Kendrys Morales is 4 for 8 with two homers and a double against Straily, but he's batted .128 with no extra-base hits in his last 12 games.
It's unknown if Oakland's John Jaso will return from an abrasion on his left hand. The catcher was batting .366 in his past 12 games before sitting out Friday.
|June 20, 2013||Derek Norris||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin injury|
|June 11, 2013||Yoenis Cespedes||Day-to-Day||Left game - left hamstring tightness|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|May 07, 2013||Josh Reddick||15-Day DL||Sprained right wrist|
|May 06, 2013||Jarrod Parker||Day-to-Day||Left game - strained neck|
|May 01, 2013||Brett Anderson||15-Day DL||Sprained right ankle|
|June 18, 2013||Michael Morse||Day-to-Day||Sore right quad|
|June 08, 2013||Kendrys Morales||Day-to-Day||Back stiffness|
|June 06, 2013||Jesus Sucre||15-Day DL||Left wrist sprain|
|June 04, 2013||Jesus Sucre||Day-to-Day||Left game - left wrist injury|
|June 01, 2013||Jesus Montero||Day-to-Day||Torn left meniscus|
|May 30, 2013||Justin Smoak||15-Day DL||Right oblique strain|
SEATTLE (AP) -- Nick Franklin has been in the major leagues for less than a month but he's already starting to become one of the Seattle Mariners ' most-trusted hitters in crucial situations.
Franklin delivered a two-run single off Oakland reliever Ryan Cook in the eighth inning to lift the Mariners to a 7-5 win over the A's on Saturday night.
After a three-run home run from Raul Ibanez tied the game at 5-5 in the seventh inning, Brendan Ryan led off the eighth with a single off Cook (1-1) and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Endy Chavez reached with a bunt single to put runners at the corners and took second on indifference.
Franklin then came through with the single to left field to score Ryan and Chavez to give the Mariners the lead. His three hits and three RBI matched career-highs and it was the first game-winning hit of his career.
"He likes being up in those situations," manager Eric Wedge said. "I just like the way he plays so aggressively. He does it offensively. He does it defensively. He does it on the basepaths. I just think you're a better baseball player when you play with no fear and that's what we've seen from him so far."
Yoervis Medina (2-2) worked 2 1-3 innings scoreless to close out the game.
With the three hits against Oakland, Franklin's average is up to .295 with seven doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI in 25 games. His ability to hit in critical spots is something his teammates are already noticing as well.
"For him to be able to stay calm in those situations and for him to be able to stay disciplined like that is huge," Ibanez said. "He's a really heads-up player. He plays very, very mature.
"He's been very impressive."
Franklin said he just tries to stay relaxed and not allow the pressure of the moment to get to him.
"I'm just trying to put something in play, give ourselves a chance to score anything," Franklin said. "It's better to put the ball in play than to have a swing and a miss trying to hit a long ball."
In his first game back from the disabled list, Franklin Gutierrez homered to right-center field in his first at-bat to give the Mariners a 1-0 lead. Following walks by Justin Smoak and Henry Blanco , Franklin came through with a two-out single to score Smoak and extend the lead to 2-0.
Oakland got a run back in the third, on Jed Lowrie 's sacrifice fly.
The Mariners chased A's starter Dan Straily from the game in the fourth inning. Straily lasted 3 1-3 innings - the shortest outing of his career - while allowing six hits and two runs. He walked three and struck out five.
"He just didn't have a good release point today," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "He was teetering from the beginning: it was what, six hits and three walks in just over three inning. He just had a rough start."
Lowrie's bases-loaded single scored a pair to give the A's a 3-2 lead in the fifth.
Oakland added on in the seventh inning. Lowrie doubled and the Mariners elected to intentionally walk Yoenis Cespedes . After a Brandon Moss struck out, Medina relieved and Josh Donaldson and Josh Reddick each singled in a run to give the A's a 5-2 cushion.
The lead didn't last long as Seattle rallied in bottom half of the inning. Ibanez delivered a three-run home run into the right field seats off Jerry Blevins to knot the game at 5-5.
Aaron Harang went five innings allowing six hits and three runs for the Mariners. He walked two and struck out three.
Notes: Gutierrez went 2-4 with an RBI and a run scored in his first game since being activated from the 60-day disabled list. The team placed OF Mike Morse on the 15-day DL with a strained right quad and designated OF Eric Thames to make room for Gutierrez on the 40-man roster. ... Ibanez has just 10 hits this season off left-handed pitchers but five have been home runs. He's batting .196 with five home runs and 11 RBI against lefties on the year. ... Mariners 3B Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to seven games with a single in the seventh inning. ... In 11 games against Seattle this season, Lowrie is batting .436 with two home runs and 10 RBI. ...Melvin said catcher John Jaso may be out until after the team's off-day on Monday with a left hand abrasion. "It's still bothering him so we'll see how he is tomorrow. There's a distinct chance we may to go through the off-day."