While the Oakland Athletics broke out of their minor rut, the Toronto Blue Jays remain stuck in a lengthy rough patch.
With one of their top pitching prospects set to make his major league debut, the A's look to hand the visiting Blue Jays a season-high sixth consecutive loss Friday night.
Bartolo Colon pitched eight scoreless innings and Josh Reddick hit a two-run homer Thursday as Oakland (57-48) beat Toronto 4-1 to avoid a third straight defeat. Leading the AL wild-card race, the A's had won 19 of 23 before dropping two in a row to Tampa Bay prior to this series.
Toronto (51-54), meanwhile, matched a season high with a fifth straight loss. Playing without injured regulars Jose Bautista (wrist), Adam Lind (back) and J.P. Arencibia (hand), the Blue Jays have been outscored 24-8 during that skid.
"We're in a stretch where runs are at a premium," manager John Farrell said. "It's difficult to string hits together right now."
The Blue Jays, who have not lost six straight since a nine-game skid May 19-27, 2009, hope to get back on track against highly touted Oakland right-hander Dan Straily. A fourth-round pick of the A's in 2009, Straily recorded a whopping 175 strikeouts while going 8-6 with a 2.60 ERA in 22 starts between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento this season.
He will be the fifth rookie pitcher to get a start for Oakland this season.
"I think we're all excited to watch him pitch," manager Bob Melvin said. "Guys like that you find a way to get into the rotation. I've seen the video, I've seen the numbers and everybody is real excited. (Friday night) will be a very good day because of it - a lot of hype, and rightfully so."
The A's would like to score early for Straily as they did Thursday with three in the third inning. Mired in an 0-for-21 slump, Reddick singled in the first inning and highlighted the third with his third homer in six games against Toronto.
Oakland's Brandon Inge delivered an RBI single in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
The A's, however, are likely to be without outfielder-designated hitter Seth Smith , who strained his left hamstring in the series opener.
Edwin Encarnacion was 0 for 11 in his previous three games before recording two hits Thursday for the Blue Jays, who are 5 1/2 games out of the final wild-card spot. Encarnacion, who has 28 homers and 72 RBIs, is 5 for 10 in his last three games versus Oakland.
The Blue Jays have struggled of late to support scheduled starter Brett Cecil (2-4, 5.56), who has lost three consecutive starts despite posting a 3.86 ERA. His teammates have totaled two runs with him on the mound in those contests.
He gave up a three-run homer and a season-high four walks in 6 2-3 innings of a 4-1 loss to Detroit on Sunday.
"I'm not going to change anything," said Cecil, who has allowed a home run in each of his last four starts. "Just keep doing what I'm doing. Wins will come."
The Blue Jays also have provided Cecil a combined two runs of support in his last three starts versus Oakland, and he's lost them all despite having a 3.15 ERA. The left-hander yielded two runs and stuck out eight in six innings of a 7-2 loss to the A's on July 24.
|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) -- Another 15-inning marathon, another victory. The Oakland Athletics are getting used to walkoff wins this season.
Jemile Weeks hit a leadoff triple and scored on Coco Crisp 's sacrifice fly to lift the A's to their second 15-inning win this week, 5-4 over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
A crowd of 30,169 stayed relatively intact for what turned out to be Oakland's major-league leading 13th walkoff victory and another pie in the face delivered by Josh Reddick , this time wearing a Spiderman costume, complete with mask.
"It's fun to get everybody involved like that," Crisp said of getting his third pie of the year. "The fans were getting into and it seems more like a family atmosphere. It's like giving them something extra."
Weeks was a star Monday night, too, when his sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 15th beat Tampa Bay.
"I was just trying to get it up in the air and deep enough," Crisp said. "I'm glad Weeksie has enough speed to beat that arm out there."
The A's became the first team to play a pair of 15-inning games in a five-day span since the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2006. This win took 4 hours, 47 minutes; the victory over the Rays lasted more than 5 hours.
Toronto lost its sixth in a row. Jeff Mathis hit a tying, three-run homer in the ninth for the Blue Jays, and Omar Vizquel was thrown out at the plate in the 12th.
Blue Jays manager John Farrell used a five-man infield and also shifted his lineup. After the designated hitter spot was lost, Aaron Loup (1-1) became the first Toronto pitcher to bat in an AL game.
Travis Blackley (4-3) pitched three innings for the win.
Oakland has won 10 straight one-run games, its longest such streak since 2000.
A's manager Bob Melvin credited a defensive play by shortstop Eric Sogard in the top of the 15th that ended the inning with the Blue Jays leaving two runners on.
Sogard dove for a sharp grounder in the hole and was able to get a force at third.
"Not only did it save the game it gave us momentum going into the dugout," Melvin said. "We were all juiced up when he made that play."
A's closer Ryan Cook retired the first two batters in the ninth. But David Cooper and Rajai Davis each singled and Mathis hit his sixth home run, tying it at 4-all.
"Can't say enough the way our bullpen came in with nine scoreless innings and getting the game into the 15th," Farrell said. "We played our hearts out."
Mathis' homer spoiled Dan Straily's major league debut.
Straily averaged 11.39 strikeouts per nine innings in the minors this year, the best rate in pro ball. Called up from Triple-A before the game, he allowed one run and five hits in six innings, striking out five.
Jonny Gomes and Chris Carter each homered for the A's. Brandon Inge and Josh Reddick also drove in runs as Oakland improved to 21-6 since the start of July.
Crisp and Yoenis Cespedes , who left the game with a right wrist sprain, each had two hits.
Toronto starter Brett Cecil allowed four runs on nine hits over five innings. Brad Lincoln went 3 1-3 scoreless innings for the Blue Jays, giving up one hit.
NOTES: The 2006 Dodgers lost in 15 innings at Arizona on Aug. 25, then beat Cincinnati in 16 innings on Aug. 29, according to STATS LLC. ... Inge has a 13-game hitting streak. ... Toronto INF Brett Lawrie left the game after one inning with tightness in his rib cage. ... A's OF RHP Ricky Romero (8-8, 5.69) goes for the Blue Jays on Saturday. He never finished the second inning in his last outing against the A's and has lost seven straight. He's 4-1 against the A's in seven career starts. The A's will start A.J. Griffin (3-0, 2.51).