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First-place Athletics hope for most exciting stretch run

  • Oakland Athletics' Josh Donaldson (20) is mobbed by teammates after hitting the game-winning single in the 11th inning of a baseball game against the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, July 14, 2013, in Oakland, Calif. The A's won 3-2. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

OAKLAND — The A's are hardly accustomed to playing in first place at the All-Star break.

Yet the top spot seems to fit them just fine at the moment — even if it's quite a change for the low-budget club long known for those second-half surges that make for a dramatic September.

The A's are all alone atop the AL West at the break for the first time since 1990. And that's saying something for the defending division champions, who last June 30 trailed the Texas Rangers by 13 games before rallying to capture the West crown on the season's final day.

It didn't hurt for momentum that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes won the Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities Monday in New York.

At 56-39, the A's are making another statement after surprising everybody with a stunning sweep of the Rangers to end the 2012 regular season and steal away the AL West title from Texas.


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