- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - What should have been a runaway win for the Oakland Athletics ended with questions and concerns.

Yoenis Cespedes homered twice and tied a career high with five RBIs before leaving with a sprained right thumb. Brandon Moss got a painful stinger to his left bicep, and reliever Jim Johnson had another meltdown on the mound as the A’s held off the Houston Astros 9-7 on Wednesday night.

Cespedes and Johnson left the clubhouse without speaking to reporters. And Moss said he should be fine after Jose Altuve ran through his tag at first base on a misfired throw.

But the aftershocks of the A’s latest win might still be felt at the Coliseum come Thursday.

Cespedes, the two-time reigning Home Run Derby champion, has had several hand and wrist injuries in his two-and-a-half years in the majors. A’s manager Bob Melvin said the slugger hurt his thumb when he fell following an awkward swing on a ground out in the fifth.

X-rays on Cespedes’ thumb were negative, Melvin said.

Cespedes showed just how valuable he is to the A’s by hitting a three-run drive in the second inning and a two-run shot in the fourth off Brad Peacock (3-7) for his 15th and 16th homers this season. He snapped a 25-game skid - matching his career high - since his last long ball June 19 against Boston.

Cespedes was replaced in left field with the A’s leading 8-1 in the seventh. But the Astros almost pulled off an improbable comeback, scoring five runs in the eighth before the back of Oakland’s bullpen shut them down.

Jesse Chavez (8-6) allowed two runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings to help the A’s (62-38) extend the best record in baseball. He struck out seven and walked two.

Johnson, who signed a $10 million, one-year deal with Oakland after saving 50 games for Baltimore last season, entered with the A’s leading 9-2 in the eighth. He gave up four runs - three earned - without recording an out to spark Houston’s five-run inning. He has a 6.92 ERA and left to a smattering of boos again.

“It’s tough, because you root for a guy like that,” said A’s shortstop Jed Lowrie, who hit his fifth homer. “He’s working really hard. Sometimes this game isn’t fair.”

Luke Gregerson stranded two runners on base in the eighth, and Sean Doolittle recorded his 15th save in 18 tries with a perfect ninth.

Chavez, who had not started since July 12 at Seattle before the All-Star break, looked sharp at the outset. He did not allow a hit until Matt Dominguez lined a single to left with one out in the fifth.

“I felt good. I think the fifth inning caught up to me a little bit,” Chavez said. “But overall, a good start to the second half.”

The A’s got all the support they needed in just three swings.

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