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Sports // Oakland Athletics

A potential postseason preview drew a large, loud crowd to the Coliseum on Labor Day, and the game provided a good measure of playoff-style strategy and drama.

The A’s made the most of some early opportunities and Trevor Cahill settled down after some early blips to set the stage for Oakland’s 6-3 victory over the Yankees in front of 40,546.

“It’s nice to see the Coliseum banging like it was today,” catcher Jonathan Lucroy said. “It’s good for the young guys here to get a taste of that, to get a feel of what the playoffs are like. Because that’s what it’s going to be like, probably more so.”

It was Cahill’s first career win against New York, the only American League team he hadn’t beaten (“I didn’t want to bring that up, but I knew that,” he said), and he thought he had a lot of extra adrenaline Monday.

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“It’s the Yankees ... and it just felt like playoff baseball,” Cahill said. “It’s a big series for us.”

AL West race

Team

W

L

GB

Houston

85

53

A’s

83

56

Seattle

77

61

8

AL wild card

Team

W

L

GB*

New York

86

52

+3½

A’s

83

56

Seattle

77

61

* Games behind 2nd wild card

Read More

The teams currently hold down the American League’s wild-card spots, with New York 3½ games ahead of the A’s. Oakland is 5½ games ahead of the Mariners for the second spot, with Seattle keeping pace after beating the Orioles late Monday, and the A’s remained 2½ games behind the Astros in the AL West.

So as things stand right now, the A’s would play a one-game, winner-take-all game at Yankee Stadium on Oct. 3. Could they send a message to New York with this week’s series?

“Not only send a message to them but send a message to the league that we’re coming after it and we want it,” Lucroy said,

Cahill didn’t get off to the best start. Andrew McCutchen, traded from the Giants to the Yankees last week, earned his first hit with his new team to open the game, then he stole second and scored on a sacrifice fly by Aaron Hicks. The A’s responded quickly against CC Sabathia, with four consecutive one-out hits in the first, including an RBI single by Khris Davis. Matt Olson drew a bases-loaded walk, and, with two outs, Mark Canha reached on an error by third baseman Miguel Andujar that allowed Davis to score and put Oakland up 3-1.

Cahill, who had walked six in his previous start, opened the second inning with a four-pitch walk to the first hitter, Gary Sanchez, and with one out, Yankees first baseman Luke Voit, acquired from the Cardinals in July, hammered a 3-2 pitch from Cahill out to right-center to tie the game.

“He was throwing some good pitches and then missing by some wide margins,” manager Bob Melvin said. “Little concerned with that because usually, when he’s on, he knows where it’s going, but he really didn’t the first couple of innings, and the next thing you know, he gives us five.”

Unfazed, Oakland responded again. Sabathia walked Marcus Semien to start the bottom of the second, and Matt Chapman doubled him home before being thrown out trying to take third. He appeared to go in safely, but Andujar was still tagging him when Chapman’s foot came off the bag.

In the fourth, Semien doubled with one out and with two outs, Jed Lowrie sent him home with a base hit to right. In the fifth, Canha drilled a two-out solo homer on an 0-2 pitch from A.J. Cole.

Cahill allowed only one hit over his final three innings and faced the minimum in that time.

“It was more getting a feel for all my pitches,” said Cahill, who started throwing mostly fastballs, then worked in more off-speed stuff in his later innings. “You get more in the flow of the game and you’re able to sequence pitches better."

When Cahill, nominally a groundball pitcher, exited, Canha — who’d just homered — went with him. Ramon Laureano went in to play center, a nod to his defensive prowess and the importance of each game during the stretch run.

Cahill has won five of his past six decisions, and he’s 5-0 with a 1.25 ERA at the Coliseum (compared with 1-3 with a 7.02 ERA on the road).

Lou Trivino entered in the sixth and struck out the side — the heart of the order, Giancarlo Stanton, Hicks and Andujar. “I don’t do him any favors,” Melvin said of the rookie reliever. “A lot of times he has to go through the middle of the order. ... After a little bit of a rocky period, which everyone’s going to have, he’s really responded lately.”

Yusmeiro Petit and Ryan Buchter worked the seventh and Jeurys Familia the eighth, providing an emotional double fist-pump after striking out Gleyber Torres to end the inning, stranding two. Blake Treinen pitched the ninth to earn his 36th save in 40 chances.

MORE: A's tab reliever Liam Hendriks for another start, this time against Yankees

The A’s are a major-league-best 49-20 since June 16. Over their past 162 games, they are 99-63.

Susan Slusser is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. Email: sslusser@sfchronicle.com Twitter: @susanslusser

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