OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Joe Blanton felt safe when he saw manager Bob Geren approach the mound with two outs in the ninth inning. He had just walked his first batter with slugger Troy Glaus coming to the plate.
After a brief conference, Geren showed confidence in his bulky right-hander and allowed him one more batter. That’s all Blanton needed.
“I told him it’s my game and I wanted it,” Blanton said of the mound visit. “He actually came out to ask me how I felt. If I was gassed I would have said so.”
“Cust’s home run gave Joe the chance to finish the game,” Kotsay said. “Joe pitches lights out all the time. He attacks the zone and has that bulldog mentality. He stayed aggressive.”
Jesse Litsch (1-3) returned to the Blue Jays rotation with seven strong innings but two errors led to a pair of unearned runs. Litsch, who made four starts in May, allowed seven hits. He walked three and struck out five.
“It was a quick game and I wished it turned out a little better,” Litsch said. “I’m about as satisfied as I can be.”
Blanton, who is nearly unhittable at home, won his third straight decision as he struck out four and walked one. Blanton has allowed three runs in his past 33 1-3 innings at home and lowered his AL-best home ERA to 1.69.
“Both guys pitched great,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “Blanton was awfully tough here and always against us.”
Blanton retired 26 of the final 29 batters following Alex Rios’ RBI single in the first inning.
“I didn’t have my sinker against Cleveland and I didn’t know what to expect,” Blanton said. “That’s a pitch that allows me to go deep into the game. It wasn’t great but it helped me out. The curve worked well and kept hitters off balance.”
Gregg Zaun’s one-out double into right-center field set up the Blue Jays’ only run.
Shannon Stewart set Oakland’s offense in motion with a leadoff single in the bottom of the first. He stole second and went to third when Zaun’s throw went into center field. He scored on Kotsay’s infield grounder.
In the second, Bobby Crosby hit a one-out single and advanced to third when Glaus committed a fielding error on Stewart’s grounder. Kotsay followed with a run-scoring single.
“I knew he was going to try to get ahead of me with that cutter so I was looking for it,” Kotsay said. “I was able to drive it to right.”
The Blue Jays had a pitcher warming up in the second but Litsch settled in to keep the A’s scoreless the rest of his stint.
Cust led off the eighth with a homer—his 15th—against Brian Wolfe.
Kotsay also recorded his third outfield assist when he threw out Glaus trying to advance to second on Frank Thomas’ deep fly in the seventh. Kotsay’s 108 assists since 1998 are the most by any major league outfielder.
“As an outfielder you’re taught to get behind the ball and follow through,” Kotsay said. “I made a good, accurate throw and it was a positive result.”
A’s INF Marco Scutaro, who was hit by a pitch on his left hand Monday night, was cleared to play after X-rays were negative. … Rios batted third for just the fourth time this season. … Litsch lasted just two-thirds of an inning in his previous major league start against the New York Yankees.