Blue Jays 4, Athletics 2
TORONTO (AP)—Vernon Wells finally had a big hit at an important time.
Wells hit a two-out homer off Rich Harden (5-4), giving Toronto a 3-2 lead. He entered the game hitting .222 with runners in scoring position, and just .154 with runners in scoring position with two out.
“It’s getting better and hopefully it will continue to get better,” Wells said. “I’m going to continue to work and hopefully things go well. If not, hopefully, we’ll have some guys who will help me out.”
Wells also hit a three-run homer in Toronto’s 8-0 victory Wednesday night.
“He’s been swinging the bat really well lately. Before it’s all said and done he’s going to have a great year,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said.
The 26-year-old center fielder hit .317 with 33 home runs and 117 RBIs two years ago, and .272 with 23 home runs and 67 RBIs last year.
He’s hitting .263 with 17 home runs and 44 RBIs. Wells said in spring training that he wanted to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases, but he has just two steals.
“He’s a huge part of our team. He got off to that slow start but he’s been rock solid,” Gibbons said. “The other thing you can’t forget about Vernon is that he’s still a youngster. He got to this level early, accomplished a lot early in his career but he’s still a young guy.”
The Blue Jays took two of three from the A’s and have won six of eight overall.
Eric Byrnes hit a two-run homer for the Athletics, who lost for just the fourth time in their last 18 games. The A’s have dropped to 41-43 after reaching the .500 mark for the first time since May 2.
“It’s incredible the way we’ve come back. We’re close to .500 before the break,” Byrnes said. “Obviously, it’s still a goal.”
Toronto starter Gustavo Chacin (7-5) won for the first time since June 6—a span of seven starts. The 24-year-old left-hander allowed two runs on five hits in 5 2-3 innings. Miguel Batista pitched 1 1-3 innings for his 15th save in 16 chances.
Bobby Kielty led off the second with a single and Byrnes followed with his homer.
In the fifth, Toronto’s Frank Menechino walked and Frank Catalanotto doubled before Wells hit his two-out homer on a 2-2 pitch. Wells swung and missed badly at one of Harden’s hard fastballs before connecting.
“It was just bad location,” Harden said.
Harden left in the sixth after consecutive walks to Reed Johnson and Gabe Gross. Ricardo Rincon relieved and walked Russ Adams before Catalanotto hit a hard grounder to shortstop Bobby Crosby, who was unable to get a corral it. Johnson scored on the RBI single.
Harden, who won his previous three starts, allowed four runs on a season-high six walks and five hits in five innings. The Canadian is 0-3 with a 5.59 ERA in five career starts against the Blue Jays.
“It’s always special coming back here,” Harden said. “It’s great coming back, but I still have to treat it like any start. I don’t try to get excited out there.”
Toronto INF Shea Hillenbrand had his first day off of the season. “He needs it,” Gibbons said. Hillenbrand went for 1-for-9 on the homestand, dropping his average to .299. He won’t get much time off next week because he made the AL All-Star team. … Toronto 2B Orlando Hudson missed his second straight game because of tightness in his right hamstring. … The A’s signed RHP Jared Lansford, the son of former Oakland infielder Carney Lansford. Jared Lansford, the 69th overall pick, was 7-3 with a save and a 1.56 ERA in 13 games for St. Francis High School in California. … Toronto won a series at home against Oakland for the time since a three-game sweep in May 2002.