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The Grand Slam: A's big day includes dramatic 1-0 win over Blue Jays

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Everybody enjoys offensive fireworks on the Fourth of July, but pitching was the name of the game at O.co Coliseum on Friday afternoon. The Oakland A's and Toronto Blue Jays hooked up for one of the best duels of the season, with both offenses failing to crack the scoreboard until deep into extra innings. It wasn't until Nick Punto's double with one out in the 12th inning that Oakland could celebrate a 1-0 victory, but even that needed some defensive assistance. 

With catcher Derek Norris running from first, it appeared he'd be held at third base on Punto's shot down the left field line. However, left fielder Melky Cabrera had all kinds of issues and was unable to cut the ball off before it reached the corner. All he could do was helplessly chase after it as Norris got the green light and trotted home with the winner.

It was a painful way lose to such a well played game, but eventually that's what it had to come down to. Both staffs were just that locked in, and Blue Jays manager John Gibbons wanted to make sure that point was driven home after the game.

''That's not the game,'' Gibbons said of Cabrera's misplay. ''It was great pitching on both sides.''

With the win, Oakland maintains a healthy 3 1/2 game lead in the AL West. And reinforcements are coming. On Friday, general manager Billy Beane acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel for his starting rotation. The Blue Jays, meanwhile, fell to one-half game behind the Baltimore Orioles, who were rained out Friday in Boston.

CLAYTON KERSHAW EXTENDS SCORELESS STREAK To 36 INNINGS:

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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Every time Clayton Kershaw takes the ball something special happens. Just ask the Colorado Rockies, who were on the wrong end of Kershaw's nearly perfect no-hitter on June 18, and could only muster two hits against the former two-time Cy Young Award winner in an 8-0 loss on Friday night.

Kershaw's latest dominant performance extended his overall scoreless innings streak to 36, which is the fourth longest in Dodgers' history. Here's a little added perspective on that.

He also has a 23-inning scoreless streak going against Colorado dating back to last September. After striking out a season-high 15 in his no-hitter, he added eight more on Friday, giving him 44 over his last four outings.

Everything you just read is remarkable, and it's all becoming routine for Kershaw. He's on a roll right now that few offenses can overcome, and a Rockies offense missing Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez stands absolutely no chance.

The Dodgers offense also had a big night, exploding for a season-high 19 hits. Yasiel Puig homered for the first time since May 28 and Scott Van Slyke added a three-run homer as the Dodgers rolled again. 

EIGHT IS GREAT FOR ATLANTA: The Atlanta Braves are heating up with the weather. On Friday night, they extended their winning streak to eight games in front of a season-high crowd of 48,815 at Turner Field with a 5-2 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Atlanta jumped out quickly, scoring a pair of runs in the first and second innings. Freddie Freeman started the scoring with an RBI single and later added another in the seventh. Jason Heyward, Andrelton Simmons and Justin Upton also drove in runs to provide the three run cushion. Ervin Santana did the work on the hill, limiting Arizona to two runs on six hits over 7 1/3 innings. He struck out six.

This win is Atlanta's 10th in 11 games and put them 10 games over .500 (48-38) for the first time since April 29. They lead the NL East by 1 1/2 games over the Washington Nationals, who fell to the Chicago Cubs, 7-2.

TROUT ENDS IT WITH A BANG: In the final game of the day, Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout set off the fireworks and sent the fans home happy in spectacular fashion. On an 0-2 pitch from left-hander Tony Sipp, Trout reached down and tagged it over the fence in left center to give the Angels a needed 7-6 victory. It was actually reminiscent of Trout's game-tying grand slam off Chris Sale last month.

The Angels actually jumped out to a 3-1 lead early but Houston responded with five in the fourth inning to take control. Albert Pujols connected on a two-run homer to trim the lead and then Howie Kendrick tied it in the seventh with an RBI double. That set the stage for Trout, who delivered his second walk-off homer of the season and 20th overall.

Chants of M-V-P greeted him at home plate. As did a wild celebration. Then came the fireworks show, which was a lot more fun for everyone following an Angels win.

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Mark Townsend is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at bigleaguestew@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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