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Cespedes captures Home Run Derby

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Updated: 7/16/2013 12:09 am

Flushing, NY (Sports Network) - Youth was served at the 2013 Home Run Derby as Oakland Athletics outfielder Yoenis Cespedes beat Washington's Bryce Harper, 9-8, in the final round.

The 27-year-old Cespedes became the second A's player to win the competition with the other being Mark McGwire in 1992. It also extended the American League's run of winners to seven straight years.

Cespedes had only five outs in the final round when he tied Harper with a blast off the window of the restaurant beyond left field. A's third base coach Mike Gallego then delivered a perfect pitch to Cespedes, who won the title with a towering 455 foot blast beyond the wall in center at Citi Field.

Cespedes, who came into the All-Star break with a .225 average this season, hit 32 homers overall, eight more than Harper. He was fortunate to be named to the Derby by AL captain Robinson Cano of the Yankees. He was the first Athletic to participate in the Derby since Jason Giambi in 2001. Additionally, he's just the fourth player to participate in the Derby while not being named to the All-Star team and the first since Philadelphia's Ryan Howard in 2007.

Just two years ago, Cespedes wasn't even a fixture in the majors or even minor leagues. He defected from Cuba in the summer of 2011 to the Dominican Republic and then became a free agent before signing with the A's prior to the 2012 season. During his rookie year, he hit .292 with 23 homers and 82 RBI in 129 games. He has 15 home runs and 42 RBI in 74 games this season.

The players with the most homers in the first two rounds advanced to the finals. That wasn't a problem for Cespedes, who smacked 17 in the first round, which was more than any player had through two rounds.

The 17 homers from Cespedes were the most since Josh Hamilton belted a record 28 in the first round in 2008 at Yankee Stadium. Cespedes hit another six homers in the second round, including one that broke a window of a pickup truck that was on display beyond the wall in center field.

"During the first round I felt I was getting into a very good rhythm," Cespedes said through an interpreter during an on-field interview. "This trophy will motivate me so things can continue to go well for me."

Harper's 16 homers over the first two rounds were one more than Colorado's Michael Cuddyer.

It's been a long road back for the 20-year-old Harper this season. He was out over a month due to bursitis in his left knee before returning July 1. He's hitting just .196 since his return, but on Monday he benefited from his father, Ron, pitching to him and hit some impressive homers to different parts of the field.

Bryce's brother, Bryan, a reliever for Single-A Hagerstown, in Washington's minor league system, was also on hand, but not to see his sibling win the event. The Harpers had to watch Cespedes go last in the competition and he overtook the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year.

"Those last two rounds I could say I was a little tired," Harper said. "It was a lot of fun and I had a blast doing it."

Harper, a two-time All-Star selection, proved to be a model of consistency with eight homers in each of the three rounds. He was bidding to become the first NL player to win the Home Run Derby since Howard in 2006.

Baltimore's Chris Davis, who tied an American League record with 37 homers prior to the Midsummer Classic, was eliminated in round two. He hit a total of 12 homers, including one of 502 feet.

Detroit slugger Prince Fielder, a two-time Derby champion and the 2012 winner, was out after hitting five homers in the first round. He did, though, hit the longest homer of the first round at 483 feet.

Pittsburgh's Pedro Alvarez was also eliminated in the first round after hitting six homers. Alvarez replaced Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez, who withdrew due to a sprained finger.

Cano, the 2011 champion, was also out after one round as he had only four homers.

Hometown favorite David Wright was the final batter of the first round. The Mets third baseman didn't advance after belting five homers.

American League players hit 53 homers, three more than their NL counterparts.

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