TORONTO (AP) -With a string of successful starts under new manager
, A.J. Burnett has pitched the
Toronto Blue Jays
back into the playoff picture.
Burnett won his fourth straight outing and the
extended Oakland's losing streak to 10 games, beating the Athletics 6-4 on Thursday night.
''It's big for us to hopefully keep on a good run here because we're far from out of it right now,'' Burnett said. ''That's
the team attitude. We want to keep winning ballgames and make it interesting.''
drove in the go-ahead run when he was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, helping Toronto finish a four-game sweep - the
first over Oakland in the team's 32-year history. The
improved to 24-17 under Gaston, who took over when
was fired on June 20.
Before the game, general manager J.P. Ricciardi said Gaston will return next season.
Toronto has won 14 of its past 18 home games and, at 59-56, is three games above .500 for the first time under Gaston.
Burnett (14-9) allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings, walking two and striking out six. The right-hander has won
eight of 10 starts since Gaston took over.
While he got the win, Burnett wasn't at his best in this one, falling behind on
's three-run homer in the second and drawing a visit from Gaston, who sensed Burnett was out of rhythm.
''I like to hear it come from myself rather than tell the pitching coach to go out and do that,'' Gaston said. ''When he goes
out there, he's going to say what he needs to say. When I go out there, I'm going to say what I need to say. I thought that
was the time to go out there and tell him. His rhythm wasn't quite good but he picked it up and pitched better.''
Burnett struck out
looking on three pitches after Gaston's visit.
''I wasn't going to give up,'' Burnett said. ''Maybe in the past I'd get a little frustrated and I could have really put fuel
on the fire but I've learned a lot to try and deal with things that happen out there and go as far as I can to try and keep
this team in line for a W.''
worked the seventh,
pitched the eighth and B.J. Ryan closed it out in the ninth for his 22nd save in 25 opportunities.
Winless since July 27, the A's have dropped seven straight series and are a major league-worst 2-17 since the All-Star break.
''If we do one thing right, we'll do something else wrong,''
said. ''That's kind of the way it's been going.''
The last time Oakland had a losing streak this long was a 12-game skid that began with nine straight losses in September 1995
and continued with three more defeats in April 1996.
Oakland also lost 12 consecutive games in April 1994.
The Athletics have been swept in three straight series of three games or more for the first time in Oakland history. The Kansas
City A's had the same run of futility in July 1955.
The lone bright spot for Oakland: rookie reliever
. He worked a scoreless eighth, extending his streak of shutout innings to 35 - the longest such run to begin a career in
modern major league history (since 1900).
broke a 4-all tie by scoring twice in the sixth without a hit. Left-hander
(1-2) hit leadoff batter
with a pitch, struck out
and then loaded the bases by walking
Blevins was lifted after plunking Inglett to force in the tiebreaking run, and
with a sacrifice fly.
Blevins said he let the pressure of trying to end Oakland's slump get to him, affecting his control.
''I just kind of seized in the heat of the moment,'' Blevins said. ''It was one of those situations where I tried to do too
Down 3-0 on Barton's fifth homer of the year, Toronto came back with four in the fourth, loading the bases with two outs before
Rolen and McDonald hit consecutive two-run doubles.
Sweeney tied it at 4 when he led off the fifth with a homer to right.
allowed four runs and seven hits in five innings, raising his major league-best ERA to 2.51. Duchscherer, winless in four
starts, walked two and matched a season high by striking out six.
''It just seems right now that things are not going our way,'' Duchscherer said. ''We've got to keep fighting through it until
Notes: Toronto CF
, out since July 10 with a strained hamstring, will DH for Triple-A Syracuse when he starts a rehab assignment Friday and
could be activated in time for a four-game series at Detroit that begins Monday. ... Oakland OF
(thumb) was a late scratch and is day-to-day. He was replaced by
. ... Inglett returned to Toronto's lineup after missing the past three games with a sore left knee. ... Mike Torres holds
the Oakland record for consecutive scoreless innings with 37 in 1976.