CLEVELAND -- Josh Donaldson got two chances with the A's early this season and had a .153 batting average to show for it.
It's a different story in his third stint, and Donaldson continued showing his importance to the A's in an 8-4 victory over the Cleveland Indians on Wednesday at Progressive Field.
He drilled a three-run home run in the fourth inning that erased a 2-0 deficit and highlighted a 15-hit Oakland attack. The A's have won five straight and 11 of their past 13 to take over sole possession of the American League's top wild-card spot.
Donaldson has been a key figure in the hot streak, hitting .351 (20 for 57) with 10 RBIs in 15 games since being recalled from Triple-A Sacramento to fill in for injured third baseman Brandon Inge.
He is giving the A's reason to consider keeping him in the lineup even after Inge returns from a sprained throwing shoulder.
"I don't make the decisions," Donaldson said. "Hopefully I've made it tough on them. I feel like I've been playing well, and we're winning right now. I think that's the biggest part."
Inge played in his sixth rehab game Wednesday with Sacramento, and A's manager Bob Melvin said recently that Donaldson's hot bat makes it easier for the A's to be cautious with Inge and make sure his shoulder is fully ready.
Donaldson made the opening-day roster but went 3 for 32 to earn a ticket to the minors. He came back May 12 after Inge suffered a groin injury but hit just
"Almost every game he's been on it for us offensively," Melvin said.
Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick each had three hits, and the A's racked up eight extra-base hits against the hapless Indians, who are 5-22 in August.
That's the most losses for Cleveland in a calendar month since 1938.
The Indians managed to score twice off Travis Blackley (5-3) in the third for their first runs in this series. But the A's claimed the lead for good on Donaldson's homer and continued to add to their lead.
Donaldson made what could have been a crucial error in the eighth with runners on first and second. He fielded Michael Brantley's bouncer and began running Shin-Soo Choo back toward second rather than throw to second to start a potential double play.
Donaldson dropped the ball, and the Indians wound up scoring twice to cut the A's lead to 6-4, though they got no closer.
"It's one of the weirdest things that's happened to me on the field," Donaldson said.
"Weird" is the right word to describe a few plays he has been involved in. Donaldson attempted to steal home and wound up caught in a rundown at Tampa Bay last weekend. Shortly after his call-up,
If the A's plug Inge back in at third, the veteran intelligence that he exhibits on the field will be a major reason.
That may not be enough to get him another start in the rotation spot left vacant by Bartolo Colon's suspension. Melvin on more than one occasion has mentioned A.J. Griffin (currently on the disabled list) and Dan Straily (in the minors) as options to rejoin the rotation.
Melvin praised Blackley's ability to work successfully between starting and relieving.
"I like starting, but I like having a job," Blackley said with a laugh.
A's starters have issued two or fewer walks in each of the past 24 games, the longest streak in Oakland history.
"We'll bring up guys that we think can help us now," A's assistant general manager David Forst said.
One of the most intriguing decisions is whether infielder Grant Green, the A's 2009 first-round pick, receives his first call-up. Green is hitting .294 with 14 homers and 69 RBIs for Triple-A Sacramento.
He has played second base, shortstop, third base and outfield this season. Might the A's give him a look at second, a spot where they have received little offense?
Forst gave no indication but said of Green: "We're happy with his year."
Will Jemile Weeks return? He was optioned Aug. 21 and can't be reinstated until Aug. 31. That is also the last day to add players if they're to be eligible for the postseason, unless they replace an injured player.
A.l. Wild-Card Race
W L Pct. GB
A's 72 57 .558 --
Baltimore 71 58 .550 1
Tampa Bay 71 59 .546 1.5
Detroit 69 60 .535 3.0
L.A. Angels 67 62 .519 5.0
Note: Top two teams earn wild-card berths.