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Suzuki snaps home run drought to help A’s sweep the Yankees

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    Oakland Athletics' Kurt Suzuki hits a home run off New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia during the fifth inning of their baseball game Sunday, July 22, 2012 in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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OAKLAND, Calif. >> Maui’s Kurt Suzuki hit a solo home run Sunday to help the Oakland A’s win the fourth game of a sweep against the New York Yankees Sunday. The homer was the first of the season for Suzuki, who snapped a career-long drought of 78 games without a long ball.

Seth Smith hit a tying homer in the ninth inning, Coco Crisp singled home the winning run in the 12th and the surging A’s rallied from four runs down to stun the New York Yankees 5-4 on Sunday and complete a four-game sweep. Oakland improved to 14-2 in July, the best record in the majors during that span, with a league-leading 11th walk-off win.

“I don’t think there was anybody in the dugout or in the stands,” Smith said, “who didn’t think we were going to win.”

Smith homered to center with one out in the ninth off closer Rafael Soriano to force extra innings.

Derek Norris started the final rally with a one-out single off Derek Jeter’s glove at shortstop. Jemile Weeks followed with a sacrifice bunt, setting the stage for Crisp to finish off New York.

The AL East-leading Yankees had not been swept in a four-game series since May 2003 against Toronto. All four losses were by one run.

“It’s no fun,” manager Joe Girardi said.

Crisp’s humpback liner to right field on a “nasty sinker” by Cody Eppley (0-2) scored Norris from second without a throw from Andruw Jones, who bobbled the ball as he tried to make the transfer. The A’s came streaming out of the dugout to celebrate their fifth straight victory, grabbing whipped-cream pies that have become so routine that concession workers behind the dugout already have them prepared.

Jerry Blevins (3-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the victory.

A year after Michael Lewis’ best-selling book “Moneyball” — which chronicled the 2002 Athletics — hit the big screen and turned general manager Billy Beane into a starring role played by Brad Pitt, Oakland is suddenly back in the AL playoff chase despite baseball’s lowest opening-day payroll at about $53 million.

By contrast, the Yankees checked in at around $200 million. A pair of New York stars — slugger Alex Rodriguez ($30 million) and ace CC Sabathia ($24.3 million) — are making more money combined this year than all of the A’s.

Still, Oakland is in a three-way tie with Baltimore and the Los Angeles Angels for the two American League wild-card spots.

Brandon Inge and Suzuki hit solo home runs off Sabathia, who allowed three runs and six hits in seven innings to outlast former teammate Bartolo Colon.

Smith sent his 11th home run just over the 400-foot sign in center. It was the first homer of the season allowed by Soriano, who blew his second save in 26 chances this season while filling in for injured Mariano Rivera.

“Everybody has a bad day,” Soriano said. “Today was the second time for me.”

The Yankees chased Colon after he allowed eight hits and one intentional walk in 6 2-3 innings. Colon struck out five while tossing 84 pitches.

Teixeira blooped an RBI single to center for the fourth straight soft single to begin the third inning, and Rodriguez drove in a pair with a one-out double off the wall in left-center to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

Curtis Granderson followed with a two-out shot in the fourth — on an 0-2 pitch from Colon — that landed in the seats in right field for his 26th home run.

Inge and Suzuki each hit solo home runs to left in the fifth to slice New York’s lead to 4-2. 

It was the third time this year that Sabathia, who grew up about 30 miles north of Oakland in Vallejo, has allowed two home runs in a game.

The A’s picked up another run in the sixth when Inge beat out a potential double play to allow Yoenis Cespedes to score.

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