On the heels of a record-setting July, the Oakland Athletics have hit a snag.
The Athletics look to avoid a third straight defeat Thursday night when they host the Toronto Blue Jays, who are at risk of matching their longest losing streak of the season.
Oakland (56-48) went a franchise-best 19-5 in July but ended the month with an 8-0 loss to Tampa Bay, then opened August by falling 4-1 to the Rays on Wednesday.
"We have to move forward," manager Bob Melvin said. "We're going through a rough patch. We'll be fine."
Owners of the final wild-card spot in the AL, the A's hadn't dropped two straight since a three-game skid June 28-30. They now look to avoid losing three in a row at home for the first time since a season-high five-game losing streak there May 22-27.
Oakland is hitting .170 over its past four games, losing three, while getting held to six runs and striking out 53 times.
"I think we all know the game has its ups and downs and we just have to stick with it," said third baseman Brandon Inge , who homered Wednesday. "We'll just keep going at it."
Yoenis Cespedes , however, has batted .429 in his last 19 games.
The Cuban rookie drove in five runs as the A's won two of three games in Toronto (51-53) last week, totaling 27 runs in the series with six homers.
Two of Reddick's five hits in 18 at-bats against the Blue Jays this year have left the park. He's driven home six runs in the teams' five games during 2012. Inge, riding an 11-game hitting streak, has eight RBIs in the season series and delivered a ninth-inning grand slam in a 7-3 home win over Toronto on May 8.
Scheduled Oakland starter Bartolo Colon (7-8, 3.78 ERA) is 0-2 in his last five home starts, allowing four runs and eight hits in each of the last two. However, he won for the first time in six starts Saturday, throwing 5 2-3 scoreless innings in a 6-1 victory at Baltimore on Saturday.
The burly right-hander hasn't faced the Blue Jays this season after struggling in his final four starts against them last year, going 0-2 with a 10.06 ERA.
He'll face a Toronto team which has been limited to seven runs and a .186 average during a four-game losing streak. The Blue Jays lost a season-high five straight May 22-27.
It surely hasn't helped that they remain without star slugger Jose Bautista , sidelined since July 16 with a sprained wrist. Bautista ranks among the major league leaders with 27 homers and 65 RBIs.
"I'm frustrated that I'm not out there, and it's frustrating to see our team lose any type of games," Bautista told the Blue Jays' official website.
Edwin Encarnacion , who has 28 homers and 72 RBIs, went 0 for 11 in Toronto's three games at Seattle this week. He's 2 for 12 versus Colon.
Henderson Alvarez (7-7, 4.43) looks to win a third consecutive start when he takes the mound for Toronto. After giving up a career-high seven runs in 5 2-3 innings of a 15-7 win at Boston on July 22, the right-hander yielded one in seven frames of a 5-1 victory over Detroit on Saturday.
"He's got a real live arm," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said.
Alvarez's only two starts against Oakland came last season, going 0-1 with a 3.09 ERA.
|Toronto Blue Jays|
|July 26, 2012||Joel Carreno||15-Day DL|
|July 26, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||15-Day DL||Broken right hand|
|July 26, 2012||Adam Lind||15-Day DL||Mid-back strain|
|July 25, 2012||J.P. Arencibia||Day-to-Day||Broken right hand|
|July 17, 2012||Jason Frasor||15-Day DL||Right forearm tightness|
|July 17, 2012||Jose Bautista||15-Day DL||Left wrist inflammation|
|July 28, 2012||Coco Crisp||Day-to-Day||Left game - Left hamstring tightness|
|July 20, 2012||Cliff Pennington||15-Day DL||Left elbow tendinitis|
|June 23, 2012||Collin Cowgill||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|June 23, 2012||Collin Cowgill||15-Day DL||Sprained left ankle|
|June 20, 2012||Brandon McCarthy||15-Day DL||Strained right shoulder|
|June 18, 2012||Bartolo Colon||15-Day DL||Strained right oblique|
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Bartolo Colon finally received some early run support from his Oakland teammates. He didn't need much at all as it turned out, even if his fastball was lacking its regular zip.
The 39-year-old Colon scattered seven hits over eight innings, extending his shutout streak to 16 1-3 innings and leading the Athletics to a 4-1 win over the slumping Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
"Early in the game I didn't know if he had his best stuff, to tell you the truth," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "I don't know if our gun was off today, but you saw a lot of 86s, 87s (mph), which you don't normally see out of him. But he finds a way. He makes you make the adjustment."
Colon (8-8) didn't do much out of the ordinary while winning his second consecutive start. The right-hander relied primarily on his fastball, changing speeds just enough to keep the Blue Jays off balance.
He retired 15 of 18 during one stretch and pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth by getting Rajai Davis to ground out. Colon had three strikeouts and one walk.
The A's staked him to a 3-0 lead following Josh Reddick 's two-run homer in the third.
That's something Oakland hasn't done much with Colon on the mound. In 12 of his 21 previous starts, the A's were held to two runs or fewer,
"I don't pay much attention to it," said Colon, who has not allowed a run since the fourth inning against the New York Yankees on July 22. "It's more important for me to do the best that I can when I'm on the mound and let the team do whatever they want."
Brandon Inge and Seth Smith also drove in runs for the A's, who improved to 14-5 since the All-Star break.
Oakland, held to no more than one run in three of its previous four games, moved past the Los Angeles Angels into second place in the AL West. The A's are 4 1/2 games behind Texas.
The Blue Jays have lost five straight, matching their season high.
"We're in a stretch where runs are at a premium," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "It's difficult to string hits together right now. You have to credit Colon. He stayed out of the middle of the plate."
Colby Rasmus , Edwin Encarnacion and Yunel Escobar had two hits apiece for Toronto.
Eric Sogard singled leading off the third, went to second on a wild pitch and scored on Smith's single to right.
Reddick followed with his 23rd home run, a towering shot into the bleachers above the right-field scoreboard to give Oakland a 3-0 lead.
"(Colon) has done great all year and we haven't gotten him the run support that he deserves, so for me to be able to do that was huge," said Reddick, who was mired in a career-worst 0-for-21 slump before singling in the first. "I went home last night and had a long talk with (my) dad, and it seemed to work out."
The A's missed an opportunity to add on when Davis misplayed Coco Crisp 's fly to left. Davis appeared to lose the ball in the lights as it sailed past his glove and rolled to the fence.
Crisp, who slowed to a trot on his way to first, raced to third but was stranded there after Brandon Moss later grounded out with the bases loaded.
Colon did the rest.
Henderson Alvarez (7-8) struggled with his control and lost for the second time in six decisions. He had a career-high five walks, pitched with runners on base in all but one of his five-plus innings, and struck out one.
Oakland made it 4-0 in the seventh when Inge singled home Chris Carter to extend his hitting streak to 12 games.
The Blue Jays scored in the ninth to avoid the shutout.
David Cooper doubled leading off against Sean Doolittle , went to third on Davis' infield single and scored two batters later on Moises Sierra 's groundout.
Four of Toronto's 10 hits didn't leave the infield.
NOTES: Smith, the A's DH, left the game after straining his left hamstring trying to run out a comebacker in the fifth inning. ... Escobar has hit safely in 10 of his last 11 games. ... Oakland SS Cliff Pennington (left elbow) may begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento on Friday, but the team has no plans to call him up soon. "We'll probably ease into it a little bit," Melvin said. ... Oakland made a pair of roster moves, adding INF Adam Rosales from Sacramento while INF Brandon Hicks was optioned down. Hicks was batting.183 with three home runs and seven RBIs in 20 games. ... Rookie RHP Dan Straily will make his first major league start for the A's on Friday. Straily has more strikeouts (175) than any other pitcher in professional baseball, including major league leader Stephen Strasburg of the Washington Nationals . LHP Brett Cecil (2-4) goes for Toronto.