By DAVID GINSBURG
AP Sports Writer
BALTIMORE (AP) — Yoenis Cespedes and Chris Carter hit two-run homers to back an effective pitching performance by Bartolo Colon, and the Oakland Athletics beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-1 Saturday night for their ninth win in 10 games.
Jemile Weeks had three hits and scored twice for the surging A’s, who are on course for the best July in franchise history. They’re 18-3 (.857) this month, and need only one victory in the next three games to finish with a better winning percentage than the 1931 club (26-7, .788).
Oakland can reach the mark by completing a three-game sweep Sunday.
Colon (7-8) scattered seven hits over 5 2-3 shutout innings, striking out five and walking one, to earn his first win in six starts since June 12. The 39-year-old is 12-8 with a 3.10 ERA lifetime against Baltimore, dating to 1998 when he pitched for Cleveland.
Nick Markakis’ ninth-inning homer off Evan Scribner enabled the Orioles to avoid being blanked for the eighth time. Baltimore went down in order only once but stranded 11, went 0 for 6 with men in scoring position and lost for the fifth time in six games.
Tommy Hunter (4-6) gave up five runs and seven hits in 5 1-3 innings. The right-hander has yielded 23 home runs this season, at least one in all but two of his 16 starts.
Oakland broke on top in the fourth when Weeks led off with a single and Cespedes hit his 14th home run. The Orioles got a hit in each of the first four innings but failed four times to produce with runners in scoring position.
The Athletics made it 3-0 in the fifth. Kurt Suzuki hit an opposite-field double to right and scored on a single by Eric Sogard.
Carter chased Hunter in the sixth with a drive to left after Seth Smith hit a leadoff single. In the bottom half, the Orioles got singles from Wilson Betemit and Mark Reynolds before Jordan Norberto struck out Omar Quintanilla to end the inning.
Adam Jones grounded out in the Baltimore seventh with two outs and runners on second and third.
Weeks singled and scored on a triple by Cespedes in the eighth.
NOTES: Baltimore DH Jim Thome did not play because of back spasms. … Orioles 2B Brian Roberts (groin strain) began a minor league injury rehabilitation assignment with Class A Aberdeen on Saturday. Manager Buck Showalter said Roberts would be reevaluated after two games there. . Baltimore C Matt Wieters reported that his tight right biceps felt much better and said he expected to play Sunday. He has missed two games with the injury. . Oakland OF Josh Reddick was absent from the starting lineup a day after he crashed into the right-field scoreboard to make a game-ending catch. … Travis Blackley (3-2) makes his first career start against Baltimore in the series finale. Wei-Yin Chen will pitch for the Orioles. … A’s head athletic trainer Nick Paparesta said RHP Brandon McCarthy, who is on the 15-day disabled with a right shoulder strain, will report to Triple-A Sacramento to pitch Monday at Reno. . Oakland LHP Dallas Braden’s recovery from shoulder surgery was stalled in Arizona when he suffered a strained left groin while throwing. He has been shut down.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)