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“It was amazing, it’s nice to see that guy going back to the mound after all that stuff that he went through,” slugger Carlos Gonzalez said. “This guy’s a tough guy. It’s not easy to do what he’s doing right now. He’s a competitor. He’s unbelievable.”

Tulowitzki said he was awed by Nicasio even before the game.

“Today we started off with what we call rag-smash, it’s basically pitchers fielding comebackers, and he made it to the finals,” Tulowitzki said. “That was impressive to me. I was thinking for a guy to be last year on the field just laid out on the mound from a line-drive comebacker … it speaks volumes about how fearless of a kid he really is.

“And then to see him take the mound today, there was some balls hit hard back up the middle. Just to see him attack the strike zone even after those things happened is pretty impressive,” Tulowitzki added.

Brandon McCarthy allowed two earned runs on four hits in 4 2-3 innings for Oakland, and Jerry Blevins picked up the win by retiring the only batter he faced.

Tulowitzki hit two doubles and scored twice off McCarthy to put the Rockies ahead 2-1 before the Athletics rallied for four runs off Tyler Chatwood in three innings.

Oakland manager Bob Melvin said Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes will make his first start Saturday against Cincinnati. He’ll bat second and play center field in his spring training debut.

“We’re just looking forward to seeing him out there and being part of the team and doing some things in the game,” Melvin said. “That’s all part of the camaraderie and chemistry. So, I think he’s looking forward to that, too.”

Notes: DH Manny Ramirez will also return to the Athletics’ lineup Saturday. … This was the only meeting between Oakland and Colorado this spring. … Rockies new closer Rafael Betancourt returned from a stiff neck that had sidelined him for a few days by throwing a 1-2-3 ninth.