Athletics 2, Blue Jays 1, 11 innings
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Eric Byrnes believes all of Oakland’s close games are great training for how to win the tight ones late in the season that matter even more.
Jermaine Dye’s sacrifice fly with one out in the 11th inning scored Byrnes with the winning run, and the Athletics won their third extra-inning game in as many days, 2-1 over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday night.
Chad Bradford (3-1) pitched the 11th for the win, and the A’s won their eighth straight at home.
The A’s played their third straight extra-inning game, the club’s first time doing so since May 13, 15-16, 2001. Oakland won 6-4 in 12 innings Tuesday on Bobby Kielty’s walkoff homer, then Mark Kotsay hit a game-ending homer in Wednesday’s 3-2, 10-inning victory.
“It’s great playing in these close games,” Byrnes said. “It’s good for the team.”
Barry Zito would much rather see the A’s win in nine.
Zito pitched eight strong innings, but again finished with nothing to show for it. Zito has won only once since April 18 and is winless in five home starts. Five of his last six starts have been no-decisions.
“It’s all right,” he said. “We’re winning. … You’ve just got to focus more on making your pitches and not personal achievement. The most important thing is winning and getting back to the playoffs.”
The 2002 AL Cy Young award winner beat the Royals in Kansas City on May 16 for his lone decision since a loss at New York on April 29.
Zito retired the side in order in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, and got 13 straight outs during that stretch before issuing a two-out walk to Bobby Estalella in the seventh. Zito pitched eight scoreless innings in the A’s 1-0 loss at Cleveland last Friday.
“It’s probably a little bit disheartening for Barry,” manager Ken Macha said. “He’s had two tremendous outings in a row with no decisions. … He left one curveball up to Johnson. It’s a shame.”
Toronto had a chance in the 10th after pinch-hitter Eric Hinske’s two-out single. He stole second, then got to third on a throwing error by catcher Adam Melhuse that went into center field on a pickoff attempt on the stolen base. But Reed Johnson grounded out.
The Blue Jays tied it at 1 on Johnson’s RBI single with two outs in the eighth, ending Zito’s scoreless streak at 16 innings.
Kotsay hit a leadoff triple in the first that got under diving right fielder Alexis Rios, and Kotsay scored on Byrnes’ sacrifice fly for a 1-0 lead. Byrnes also had a third-inning double.
Third-base coach Ron Washington calls him a “picking machine.”
“I’ve had a lot of nicknames,” McLemore said. “We find ways to win. We could do better. … I think we’re confident everywhere.”
Frank Menechino, traded by the A’s to Toronto last month, opened the game with a leadoff single and was the only baserunner to reach third against Zito until Chris Gomez advanced in the eighth and scored on Johnson’s hit. The left-hander allowed five hits, struck out five and walked two.
Miguel Batista, who had won three of his last four starts after going winless in his first seven, retired 11 of 12 through the middle innings before McLemore’s double in the seventh.
Batista allowed six hits, struck out five and walked one intentionally in eight innings.
Estalella hit a towering fly to left in the second that was ruled foul. Third-base umpire Lance Barksdale ran down the line into left field to make the ruling, which brought Blue Jays manager Carlos Tosca out of the dugout for a heated debate.
He hollered and flapped his arms, arguing the ball went over the top of the foul pole for a home run.
“That was a fair ball,” Estalella said. “I knew it was fair all the way. I hit it, looked to make sure it stayed straight and started running. Everyone knew it was a home run except for him. All you can do is just be mad, that’s about it.”
Oakland second baseman Marco Scutaro was tended to in the fifth after jamming his right pinkie on first base when he dived back to the bag to avoid a pickoff throw. He grimaced in pain for several moments on the ground, but trainer Larry Davis came out and appeared to pop the finger back in place, andScutaro remained in the game.
The game drew only 10,879 fans, some of whom booed Menechino when he came to the plate. … Rookie Jason Frasor pitched two shutout innings and hasn’t allowed a run in 19 innings, the longest stretch by a Blue Jays pitcherthis year.