Stairs homered and drove in four runs, McGowan pitched seven scoreless innings and the Blue Jays wrapped up their 10-game trip with a 10-3 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Wednesday.
“It’s nice on a getaway day when you jump to a big lead early and know that you’ll have a pretty good flight home,” Stairs said. “Going 4-6 isn’t too bad for a West Coast trip.”
McGowan (5-4) got all the support he needed in the first inning when Stairs hit a two-run double and the Blue Jays took advantage of four walks to chase a wild Joe Kennedy (2-7) with four runs.
Stairs also hit a two-run homer in the third off Shane Komine. Vernon Wells added his third homer of the series, a solo shot in the sixth, and a two-run double in the eighth as Toronto took two of three in Oakland.
The A’s managed only a pair of hits in the third inning and two more in the seventh against McGowan, who continued his recent pattern of alternating good starts with bad over his past five outings. McGowan allowed four hits and two walks, striking out three against the A’s.
He has an 0.82 ERA in his three wins during that span, including a one-hit shutout against Colorado on June 24 when he took a no-hit bid into the ninth inning. In his two losses, McGowan has a 14.85 ERA.
McGowan said the difference in this start was that he had the early lead and was able to avoid the big inning.
“When we’re swinging like that we’re tough to beat,” McGowan said. “It’s easier to pitch because you can go out there knowing that no matter what you can still attack the zone.”
Kennedy was unable to find the strike zone after retiring Wells on a fly ball to right on the first pitch of the game. Alex Rios followed with a single and Kennedy walked the next three batters to force in a run. Stairs followed with a two-run double.
“It was one of those things where we kind of pulled some A’s baseball on them in the first inning when we took some pitches and went deep in the count,” Stairs said. “When they threw some strikes we hit it pretty good.”
“He just looked like he had trouble throwing strikes early and got down by four,” Geren said. “I just felt like we had a lot of bullpen left because of the complete game last night by Joe Blanton and I just wanted to see if we could salvage it and I just felt that bringing Komine in there might give us a better chance.”
Kennedy allowed four runs and two hits in two-thirds of an inning and is 0-3 with a 7.84 ERA in five starts since beating Boston on June 6. He left without talking to reporters.
“He didn’t get the ball over the plate,” catcher Jason Kendall said. “You’re going to have outings like that. Put this one behind you.”
Blue Jays 3B Troy Glaus left in the third inning with an injured left foot. X-rays were inconclusive and Glaus will be checked out again Thursday at home. … The last time an A’s starter failed to get out of the first inning was May 25, 2005, when Blanton got knocked out after retiring only one batter against Tampa Bay. … Komine allowed four runs and six hits in 6 1-3 innings, Oakland’s longest relief outing since Doug Johns went 6 2-3 innings against the New York Yankees on Aug. 23, 1996. … With the appearances by Komine and OF Dee Brown, the A’s have used 45 players this season—their most since also using 45 in 1998.