Toronto Blue Jays rally in 12th for 6-2 win over Oakland Athletics
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP)—Though the playoffs are an improbable prospect for both the Blue Jays and the Athletics, neither club is ready to surrender its faint hopes just yet—even if it means battling nearly four hours on a chilly Monday night.
Oakland tied it in the eighth on Dan Johnson’s RBI single, and the A’s squandered plenty of infuriating opportunities to win it, stranding 14 runners. The Blue Jays’ relievers escaped several jams while Oakland’s bullpen retired 11 straight batters—before Vernon Wells and Frank Thomas singled to lead off the 12th against Alan Embree (1-2).
Glaus then crushed a line drive off the top of the extended wall in left-center, and Aaron Hill followed with an RBI single off Ruddy Lugo. Gregg Zaun and Reed Johnson drove in additional runs for the Blue Jays, who were swept in a three-game series with Oakland last week that nearly erased their hopes of contending for the AL wild card in September.
“I don’t know how the other guys feel, but I would certainly like to pay them back with a three-game sweep,” said Lyle Overbay, who had an early RBI double.
“You’d rather see it earlier, but we’ll take it any time,” Toronto manager John Gibbons said. “You’ve just got to keep battling.”
Oakland’s often-shaky bullpen was solid for four innings after Esteban Loaiza left with two runners on in the eighth. Embree finally fell apart in the A’s return to the Coliseum after three disheartening losses at Tampa Bay.
“We were in a position to win the game with just one hit many times,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “It just didn’t happen. I felt like we were going to get it done.”
The A’s nearly won it in the ninth, but Alex Rios sprinted to catch pinch-hitter Mike Piazza’s two-out drive to deep right field with two runners in scoring position. Piazza stranded two more runners in the 11th on a fly to left field.
Oakland’s rally spoiled a fourth straight outstanding start by Burnett, who allowed one run, four hits and five walks over seven innings. Burnett, who has a 1.63 ERA in four starts since returning from a stint on the disabled list with a strained shoulder, narrowly outpitched Loaiza in the right-handers’ second meeting in five days.
“He wants to pitch deeper into ballgames, to be that horse we want him to be—that second guy in the rotation behind Doc (Roy Halladay),” Overbay said.
Loaiza, who missed the first 4 1/2 months of the season because of three different injuries, yielded seven hits and two runs in just his second start of the season. The A’s swept a three-game series from the Blue Jays in Toronto last week, with Loaiza allowing three hits in 7 2-3 innings to beat Burnett last Wednesday in his season debut.
“There’s just little things we need to accomplish to win games,” said Loaiza, who might be a trade target this week for contending clubs. “I know we’re a lot of games out, but we would like to finish strong. We’ve just got to keep battling.”
Swisher hit his 17th homer of the season in the first inning, but Toronto replied with two runs in the third when Overbay doubled and scored on Rios’ single.
The A’s repeatedly got runners on base against Burnett, but Marco Scutaro flied out with the bases loaded to end the fourth inning, then grounded out with two runners on to end the sixth.
Scutaro and Jack Hannahan also failed to drive home two runners in scoring position to end the eighth.
Accardo walked two batters, but hasn’t allowed a run in 11 straight appearances. … A’s closer Huston Street was overpowering, striking out four during two perfect innings. … Loaiza went 25-28 in 2 1/2 seasons with Toronto from 2000-02. … Swisher still leads the AL with 90 walks despite not drawing a free pass in nine straight games. … Oakland 3B Eric Chavez and RHP Rich Harden are rehabilitating in Arizona. Geren said Harden would be in Oakland on Tuesday after throwing off a mound in Arizona on Monday, while Chavez is back at work on a rehab program for his stiff back.