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Crisp could be key cog in stretch run

BALTIMORE -- The offense for Oakland sometimes seems to feed off leadoff man Coco Crisp, and he could be a huge factor in the A's run toward the playoffs.

Crisp hit a go-ahead home run in to lead off the ninth inning of Saturday's 2-1 win over the Orioles and has now homered in three straight games.

When Crisp gets hot, other players often follow suit. In Friday's series opener against Baltimore, Crisp tied a career high with four hits, and homered and scored three runs. Though the A's got 12 hits, and scored four runs in the fourth inning, it wasn't enough to overcome some shaky pitching in the eventual 9-7 loss.

Nonetheless, A's manager Bob Melvin was happy with the production from the offense. He remains confident his team will win more games than it loses when the bats are clicking, especially when Crisp gets on base.

"Coco is our table setter," Melvin said. "When Coco plays well we seem to fall in behind him. We put up runs like that, we usually win those games."

The A's still own the second Wild Card spot, but the Orioles are right on their heels, trailing by only two games entering Saturday. Oakland was 2 1/2 games behind Boston, which trailed Tampa Bay by mere percentage points for first place in the American League East, for the top Wild Card spot.

Entering Saturday's game against Baltimore, the A's had lost four of their last six and were just 15-17 since the All-Star break.

"You always want to win every single game," Crisp said. "You win some, you lose some. We've been going through a tough stretch."

Oakland also trailed Texas by 3 1/2 games for first place in the American League West entering Saturday. Melvin said the goal is to win the division to avoid the one-game Wild Card playoff. Crisp will likely play a huge role in reaching that goal.

Todd Karpovich is a contributor to
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