OAK@BAL: Balfour strikes out Flaherty to close it out

BALTIMORE -- Oakland manager Bob Melvin was impressed with Grant Balfour's command in closing out the ninth inning of Saturday's 2-1 victory over Baltimore.

Balfour entered in the ninth inning and earned his 32nd save on just 12 pitches by retiring Nick Markakis, J.J. Hardy and Ryan Flaherty in order. Melvin said some extra days of rest might have been beneficial to Balfour.

"He's been terrific all year," Melvin said. "That might have been as good a stuff we've seen him have all year. He's had five days off. He's throwing 96 mph and using his fastball a lot, which means he felt like he had pretty good stuff."

Balfour said the extra rest did help, but it did not change his focus.

"The extra rest did help a little, but I have the same mentality," Balfour said. "Obviously, having the rest your arm is going to feel good. It always helps."

After the Baltimore series, the A's will continue a tough stretch over the next three weeks, including series with the Tigers and Rays, each of whom are in the playoff hunt. Oakland then begins a huge three-game set at home against Texas that could help decide the American League West.

Balfour is not feeling any extra pressure. He said the key is to close out the season strong,

"The next 30 games are huge," Balfour said. "People talk about this road trip, we're playing Baltimore, we're playing Detroit. To me, that's all the hype of everyone else outside. Each team has a bat in their hand and all of them can do damage. I don't put the pressure on myself. They say it's going to be a tough road trip. I say so what, it's just a baseball game. Let's go out and win it."

Parker pitching like an ace, extends impressive streak

OAK@BAL: Parker throws eight innings of one-run ball

BALTIMORE -- Oakland right-hander Jarrod Parker has become the de facto ace at this point of the season, especially with the injury to Bartolo Colon.

On Saturday, he outdueled Orioles ace Chris Tillman in the A's 2-1 victory. Parker has won eight consecutive decisions and is unbeaten in 16 starts, one shy of the club record held by Catfish Hunter.

Parker kept the A's in the game with a career high 117 pitches until Coco Crisp hit the go-ahead home run in the ninth, snapping a three-game losing streak. Parker improved to 10-6 with a 3.58 ERA.

"You're in a 1-1 game and you know you made one mistake and that mistake could be the difference in a loss or a no-decision," Parker said. "If you're able to limit it to one, you know you did a pretty good job. I want to go out there and give up no runs."

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said Parker kept Baltimore off-balance for most of the night.

"He works in and out," Jones said. "He has a good changeup. Nothing was really hit hard today. You got to tip your cap to both pitchers. I think that was a well-pitched ball game on both sides. Obviously a 2-1 game means a well-pitched ballgame on both sides."

Orioles manager Buck Showalter and A's skipper Bob Melvin said it was fun to watch an old-fashioned pitchers' duel between Parker and Tillman.

"Good thing there are pitch counts for both those guys or that game might have gone on for awhile," Melvin said. "Both those guys were dominant today. It was good to reward Jarrod because he pitched as well as you can pitch."

Colon, who is 14-5 with a 2.97 ERA, is expected to throw a bullpen session Monday in Detroit as he recovers from a groin strain.

Slumping Cespedes not in starting lineup

CLE@OAK: A's strike early on Cespedes' two-run homer

BALTIMORE -- Oakland left fielder Yoenis Cespedes has been struggling at the plate and got the day off in the series finale Sunday against Baltimore.

He went 0-4 in Saturday's 2-1 victory and is batting .227 with 20 homers and 58 RBIs.

"He's just having a little tough time right now," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "When you're grinding as hard as some guys are at this point of time in the season, and you're struggling some, sometimes a day off mentally just as much physically, you can benefit by it. I just felt he needed a day off the way he's been swinging the bat recently."

Melvin said one of Cespendes' issues is that he's been overaggressive at times and pitchers are adjusting to him. Melvin spoke to Cespedes about the day off and he did not have a problem with it.

In July, Cespedes became the first player to win the Home Run Derby after not being chosen to play in the All-Star Game.

Suzuki gets second straight start in return to A's

OAK@BAL: Suzuki shows quick reflexes to get Machado

BALTIMORE -- A's catcher Kurt Suzuki started for the second consecutive game since being traded from the Nationals, but manager Bob Melvin said Stephen Vogt will continue to get regular starts behind the plate.

Melvin said he decided to give Vogt some rest after taking a couple of knocks in the previous Seattle series. He expected Vogt to be back in the lineup Monday against Detroit.

"He was a little banged up [this week], but was able to play," Melvin said. "It made some sense to catch Zuke yesterday and we'll catch him today. But it doesn't mean we're going in another direction."

Suzuki went 1-for-3 with a double and scored a run Saturday against the Orioles. Vogt is batting .222 with two homers and nine RBIs in 26 games.

Melvin said Voigt will continue to get at-bats, especially when the lineup calls for left-handed hitters.

Oakland has been plagued with injuries behind the plate. John Jaso is on the disabled list with a concussion and might miss the rest of the season. Derek Norris was placed on the 15-day DL on Friday, retroactive to Wednesday, with a fractured left big toe.