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OAKLAND, Calif. Michael Jordan Jersey 45 . -- The Oakland Athletics are hardly accustomed to playing in first place at the All-Star break. Yet the top spot seems to fit them just fine at the moment -- even if its quite a change for the low-budget club long known for those second-half surges that make for a dramatic September. The As are all alone atop the AL West at the break for the first time since 1990. And thats saying something for the defending division champions, who last June 30 trailed the Texas Rangers by 13 games before rallying to capture the West crown on the seasons final day. It didnt hurt for momentum that outfielder Yoenis Cespedes won the Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities Monday in New York. At 56-39, the As are making another statement after surprising everybody with a stunning sweep of the Rangers to end the 2012 regular season and steal away the AL West title from Texas. "I really believe that the guys in this clubhouse really believe that we have one of the best teams in baseball," third baseman Josh Donaldson said. "Its just one of those things, where when we get an opportunity to play a good team like the Red Sox or the Pirates or the Cardinals, were out there sending a message that we are a good team, that were for real." Cespedes has continued to make strides in his second major league season, and perhaps winning the Derby will help propel him into the second half. The second-year slugger from Cuba has 15 home runs and 43 RBIs. And Oakland announced Wednesday it would open the gates an hour earlier to fans for remaining Friday home games so they can watch Cespedes and others take batting practice. "Hes not happy about his average right now but his productions still there for a guy whos hitting (.225)," manager Bob Melvin said. "Hes always on the verge of a hot streak." Oakland has seven wins in 10 extra-inning games, and six walkoff victories already after 14 last season led the majors. The As also have their first winning first half since 2008 -- with plans on making another run at an underdog division title. "Everythings rolling pretty well," Donaldson said. "Weve got a lot of guys in the lineup that can do some damage, not only just hitting home runs but getting on base. ... From 1 to 25, we feel like we can put anybody in the game and theyre going to be successful." Who would have thought Angels stars Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Co. would sit a surprising 11 games back at this stage? The As lead Texas by two games. "Theyve got a pretty good team to work with, too," Reds manager Dusty Baker said. "It was very impressive what they did last year, because I dont think they envisioned theyd make the playoffs. At the beginning it was kind of like, Do the best you can and well worry about the future later. I dont think BoMel (Melvin) got into that, because you cant have that attitude as a manager, because that transfers to your players." General manager Billy Beane did acknowledge his club was in rebuilding mode, so the As overachieved. They lost in the deciding Game 5 of the AL division series to the Tigers, who went on to be swept by the San Francisco Giants in the World Series. Melvin has done an admirable job mixing and matching to cope with injuries to key players such as centre fielder Coco Crisp. Oaklands substitutes have done their share. "It shows that there are 25 guys in this room that, when used properly, can compete and win games," said Nate Freiman, who singled home the winning run against Mariano Rivera in an 18-inning win over the Yankees last month. "And it shows that the guys making the decisions are good at making the decisions and they know how best to use guys." Donaldsons steady bat is a key reason the As are in the lead. He is hitting a team-best .310 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs and 107 hits, most in the first half by an As player since Carney Lansfords 118 in 1988. Donaldson is the first As player to bat at least .300 with 15 or more home runs before the break since Jason Giambi in 2001. Donaldson didnt make the AL All-Star team, with closer Grant Balfour the lone representative in place of 40-year-old, 12-game winner Bartolo Colon. These young, unselfish As are accustomed to being snubbed, and certainly dont mind the role of overlooked opponent. Though that image might be wearing off in a hurry if they keep this good thing going. Along with Donaldson, Brandon Moss also has 16 home runs. "Its fun to watch our lineup hit," lefty starter Tommy Milone said. "Theres no easy out. That makes it tough, especially for other pitchers. Its good for us because we go out there and feel comfortable with any lineup that we put out there." Sports Jerseys . LOUIS -- Heading into the final stretch of the season, the issues for the Chicago Bears banged-up defence only seem to be getting worse. Tom Brady Jersey Retro .  Aside from the trilogy main event title fight, there are a number of intriguing matchups in the heavyweight, welterweight and lightweight divisions. . The winner Saturday will remain in the elite 10-team field next year. "We talked about wanting to be disciplined and stick with our game plan and good things will come," Draisaitl said, who had two goals for the victors. CINCINNATI -- For most of the game, A.J. Green piled up more yards than the entire Miami Dolphins offense in a virtuoso performance. As an encore, he thrilled the crowd by juggling some Florida citrus.The Bengals receiver followed his disappointing game with a dominating one -- 173 yards and a touchdown -- and a Cincinnati defense that was inspired by Vontaze Burficts return clamped down on the Dolphins for a 22-7 victory Thursday night.The Bengals (2-2) rebounded from a 29-17 home loss to Denver on Sunday with a solid all-around game against a depleted team.Green led the way, beating the Dolphins (1-3) on every type of route . He was upset with himself after he dropped a pivotal third-down pass and failed to make an impact against the Broncos.I hold myself to a very high standard, said Green, who had 10 catches. I know what Im capable of. Last week I didnt perform to that level. I had to refocus on a short week.During the first three quarters, Green had 166 yards on catches while Miami had 152 total yards. The Bengals season-long problem of stalling out near the goal line forced them to settle for Mike Nugents season-high five field goals.Afterward, Green and Andy Dalton appeared on the postgame show, and the receiver entertained the dozens of Bengals fans who stayed around by smoothly juggling three oranges at the interview desk.Any time he was one-on-one, he was able to make the play, Dalton said.The Dolphins were missing four starting offensive linemen, two linebackers, running back Arian Foster and tight end Jordan Cameron. They had one big play -- Ryan Tannehill threw a 74-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills -- but couldnt do anything else on offense.Weve got to get it fixed and quick, and by that I mean Monday, Tannehill said. Were kind of in a dark spot right now. Its squarely on our shoulders.The Bengals defense expected to get a lift from Burficts return. The volatile linebacker was suspended by the NFL for the first three games because of his illegal hits. He got a loud ovation when he ran onto the field during introductions wearing a baseball cap. Burfict knocked down a pass and had three tackles.Hes amazing, end Carlos Dunlap said. Did you see the plays he made? Those arent plays you can coach. He came off his couch and played great. Itts good to have him back. Sports Jerseys From China. ostly, it was Greens show. He caught a 51-yard pass off Daltons scramble in the first half, and had a 43-yard catch that set up another field goal in the third quarter for a 19-7 lead.REMEMBERING FERNANDEZA large fan banner in the upper deck at Paul Brown Stadium honored Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died with two friends in a boat crash early Sunday near Miami Beach. The banner read: Jose 16 Heavens Bright.STILL CANT RUNThe Bengals rushed for 77 yards and only a 2.1-yard average against the second-worst run defense in the league, one missing two starting linebackers.SLOPPY DOLPHINSMiami had seven penalties for 68 yards. The most egregious was by Terrence Fede, who pushed Kevin Huber to the ground after he punted in the third quarter. The penalty gave Cincinnati the ball, and the Bengals got a field goal out of it.INJURIESDolphins: LT Branden Albert and C Anthony Steen were inactive with sprained ankles. Also missing were LBs Koa Misi (neck) and Jelani Jenkins (groin). C Mike Pouncey has missed all four games with a hip injury.Bengals: TE Tyler Eifert was inactive again, contributing to the Bengals trouble close to the goal line. Hes recovering from offseason ankle surgery and returned to practice on a limited basis last week. CB Dre Kirkpatrick was inactive with a hamstring injury suffered Sunday. G Clint Boling sat out most of the fourth quarter with an injured left shoulder.ANTHEM STATEMENTSStills and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas knelt with their hands over their hearts during the anthem.FANTASY IMPACTTannehill was 15 of 25 for 189 yards with a touchdown, an interception, a fumble and five sacks. Dalton was 22 of 31 for 296 yards with a touchdown and a sack.UP NEXTThe Dolphins begin a stretch of four straight home games against Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and the New York Jets.The Bengals have a tough two-game stretch, playing Dallas and New England on the road. Theyre 1-5 in Dallas, dropping their last three. Theyve dropped their last six at New England, last winning in 1986.---Online: AP NFL website: and AP NFL Twitter feed: ' ' '