Athletics 8, Blue Jays 3
But with contributions coming from many players, the A’s have more than survived without their best player, beating the Toronto Blue Jays 8-3 Sunday for their fourth win in five games.
“When all the pieces are working and in fine, running condition it’s easy,” manager Ken Macha said. “When it’s not going well, people have to step up and fill the void.”
“Chavy is our team leader and obviously our best player,” Byrnes said. “But there are 24, now 25, other guys going out there and playing hard to win as a group. I like that about this team. We’re scratching for runs.”
The A’s matched a season best at seven games over .500 and moved into second place in the AL West, 1 1/2 games behind Anaheim—their smallest deficit since April 26.
The four-run first proved to be enough for Mark Redman (4-3), who allowed three runs in five innings before turning it over to the bullpen. Duchscherer preserved the one-run lead until Hatteberg’s big hit broke open the game in the seventh.
“A tremendous job by Duchscherer again,” Macha said. “There was no save today, but he certainly should be given one. He was fantastic.”
Toronto’s Jason Kershner (0-1) got more time to prepare for his second big league start than his first on Tuesday, when he was told just two hours before the game that he would fill in for injured Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay.
But the extra time didn’t help as he allowed four first-inning runs to an A’s team that had scored just 10 in the four games since All-Star third baseman Eric Chavez broke his hand.
Byrnes homered on the second pitch, and then the A’s showed they could even score without the longball for the first time since Thursday.
“It’s been tough to score runs lately,” Dye said. “That became a big play for us. It got us a couple of runs.”
Kershner lasted only two more innings before manager Carlos Tosca turned a 4-0 deficit to his bullpen.
“I would just love to erase that first inning,” Kershner said. “When I came back out in the second I was completely calmed down.”
After snapping a major league record-tying stretch of seven straight no-decisions from their starting pitchers with Tim Hudson’s shutout Saturday, the A’s got another win from their heralded staff.
Even though Redman struggled to find umpire Lance Barksdale’s strike zone in a three-run fifth inning, Oakland’s starters improved to 3-0 with a 1.97 ERA over the last 10 games.
Redman uncharacteristically walked four batters in the fifth—more than he had issued in all but one of his first 10 starts.
Two walks around a double by Josh Phelps loaded the bases and a free pass to Frank Menechino scored Toronto’s first run. The Blue Jays added runs on Eric Hinske’s sacrifice fly to the warning track in center and Reed Johnson’s RBI groundout.
“He took advantage of our aggressive nature in the first couple of innings,” Toronto’s Gregg Zaun said. “You have to watch a pitcher like that and make sure he doesn’t do that to you. We started to be a little bit more patient at the plate after the third inning. We nibbled at him and took advantage of his mistakes.”
Oakland has won 10 of 11 at home. … Blue Jays C Bobby Estalella had a rough sixth inning. He was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame and then was called for interference when Crosby’s relay to first on a double-play grounder hit his raised hand as he slid into the base. … Byrnes has three career leadoff home runs. … The Blue Jays dropped to 2-25 when they score three orfewer runs.