Baseball / Sports

The Oakland Athletics' Coco Crisp stops at third base after he hit a three-run triple against the New York Mets as third baseman David Wright (5) looks on in the fourth inning at O.co Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. (Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group/MCT)

Crisp helps Athletics snap losing streak in victory over Mets

OAKLAND, Calif. -- The Oakland A's have been pretty much waiting since the All-Star break for a big Coco Crisp breakout, and he finally might have struck the kind of blow Tuesday night that fires up some long-overdue hot Coco.

Crisp broke a 1-1, fourth-inning tie with a bases-loaded, rifle-shot triple down the right field line to lead Oakland to a 6-2 victory over the New York Mets at the Coliseum and snap the club's season-worst five-game losing streak.

The veteran leadoff hitter has been in one of his worst funks since coming to the A's in 2010. He went 2 for 23 on the club's 1-6 trip, and since the break, was just 9 for 73 (.123) heading into Tuesday night. He hadn't had a multi-hit game since July 8, also the date of his last stolen base.

While many fans have harped on the trade of Yoenis Cespedes as the primary reason for the A's recent offensive struggles, the virtual absence of Crisp's production may be the real reason Oakland has had such trouble scoring. He is their igniter, their chief speed threat, and a player who can carry a team when he's on a roll.

With crucial series against the Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners on the horizon, the A's can only hope Crisp is about to go on a tear.

"It's not like he's striking out every time up or taking a lot of bad swings, he's just not getting hits at this point," said manager Bob Melvin before the game. "I know it's tough on him, it's tough on us when our leadoff guy isn't on base. But I still have a great feeling when he's at the plate, and I know he's going to come out of this thing."

Crisp got going early with a single in the third inning in which the A's loaded the bases with two outs but failed to score when Josh Donaldson struck out against Mets starter Dillon Gee.

In the fourth inning, however, the A's loaded the bases again against Gee on a Stephen Vogt one-out single, a Derek Norris double into the left field corner and a Josh Reddick walk. Alberto Callaspo's sacrifice fly brought home Oakland's first run, which tied the score 1-1, and Eric Sogard drew a two-out walk to load the bases again for Crisp.

On a 1-0 pitch, Crisp took a big rip and slashed a liner into the right field corner, clearing the bases and giving Oakland a 4-1 lead.

The big hit seemed to buoy A's starter Scott Kazmir, who required 51 pitches to get through his first three scoreless innings and then surrendered a solo home run to the Mets' Travis d'Arnaud to open the top of the fourth.

But following the Crisp hit, Kazmir (14-5) didn't allow a hit over his final two innings and finished his 105-pitch night with a 1-2-3 top of the sixth. Kazmir wound up allowing four hits and three walks while striking out six.

The Mets got a run back in the top of the seventh against reliever Ryan Cook. Wilmer Flores led off the inning with a bloop double down the left field line, and after an out, former A's catcher Anthony Recker doubled to left to score Flores. Cook struck out leadoff man Juan Lagares for the second out, however, and Eric O'Flaherty entered to strike out Curtis Granderson.

Luke Gregerson pitched a perfect top of the eighth, and the A's padded their lead when Josh Reddick launched a two-run homer to right against Mets reliever Gonzalez Germen with one out in the bottom of the inning following a Norris walk.

-- The A's made it official that fifth starter Jason Hammel would be skipped in the rotation for this weekend's series against the Angels. Sonny Gray, Jon Lester and Kazmir will be the pitchers against the A.L. West leaders. Hammel will be available in the bullpen, but he will return to his starting spot next week against Houston.

"We still know this is a guy who's very important to us and we have to get him going," said Melvin. "I know he's going to throw some bullpens a little bit harder than when you're on schedule for your fifth day to keep himself ready."

-- Infielder Nick Punto (hamstring) could step up his baseball activity in the next few days but there is no clear indication when he might return. Outfielder Craig Gentry (hand fracture) and first baseman Kyle Blanks (calf) are both playing on rehab assignments with Triple-A Sacramento but Melvin isn't sure when either might be headed to Oakland. He said he'd like Gentry to play several games in a row.

(c)2014 Contra Costa Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.)

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