Barajas, Blue Jays hand Oakland 9th straight loss
TORONTO (AP)—Gio Gonzalez shook off a rude welcome to the major leagues and showed why he’s considered Oakland’s top pitching prospect.
It still wasn’t enough to give the slumping Athletics a win.
Rod Barajas hit a three-run homer, Shaun Marcum pitched seven strong innings and the Toronto Blue Jays beat Oakland 5-1 Wednesday night to extend the Athletics’ season-long losing streak to nine games.
Oakland has been outscored 47-17 during the skid, managing no more than three runs in each of the losses. The A’s are a major league-worst 2-16 since the All-Star break and have lost seven straight road games, a season high.
The lone bright spot was Gonzalez, who recovered after allowing Barajas’ homer in the first to retire 16 of the next 17 batters. He came out after a leadoff single in the seventh.
“To his credit, he settled in,” Oakland manager Bob Geren said. “He mixed all his pitches, he was very aggressive, he worked quick, he looked confident— all the things you want to see in a young guy. It was a pretty good outing, really. Pretty impressive.”
Called up from Triple-A on Tuesday, Gonzalez allowed four runs and four hits. The left-hander struck out four and walked two.
“He pitched awesome,” catcher Kurt Suzuki said. “Anytime you come to the big leagues, your first time out there you’re going to have some butterflies— and he did—but he kept his composure. He’s 22 years old. The sky’s the limit for a guy like that.”
Gonzalez called his shaky first inning “a humbling experience,” but wasted little time in settling down.
“After that first inning is when I realized, you know what, this is where I want to be, this is where I want to stay,” Gonzalez said. “I tried to keep it like that, trying to go out there and finish with seven strong was my idea. If it happened, it would have been phenomenal for me. I’m just happy I went a couple of innings where I put doughnuts on the board.”
The five hitless innings that followed Barajas’ homer left teammates eager to see what Gonzalez will do next time.
“I thought he did a great job,” Suzuki said. “I’m real excited for his next start.”
A first-round pick by the Chicago White Sox in the 2004 draft, Gonzalez was traded to Philadelphia in a 2005 deal that sent Jim Thome to the White Sox. Gonzalez went back to Chicago in 2006 when Freddy Garcia was traded to the Phillies, then landed with Oakland last offseason when the Athletics sent Nick Swisher to the White Sox.
“Seems like every time there’s a big trade, he’s in the middle of it,” Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. “That must mean something. Looks like he’s going to have a bright future.”
Marcum (6-5) allowed one run and three hits to win for the first time in four starts since missing 27 games with a sore right elbow. He walked two and struck out seven.
“He was hitting his two-seamer on both sides and his cutter on both sides,” Geren said. “It was like he had four different fastballs going.”
The right-hander didn’t allow a hit through the first five innings and had set down 13 straight batters, the final five on strikeouts, when Bobby Crosby homered to begin the sixth. It was Crosby’s sixth of the season and second in three games.
“He made sure he welcomed me to the big leagues,” a rueful Gonzalez said.
Oakland loaded the bases with none out in the seventh but couldn’t score. Frank Thomas was forced out at home on Mark Ellis’ fielder’s choice, with Barajas making a fine catch on a one-hop throw from McDonald at shortstop. Jack Hannahan, hitless in 15 at-bats, ended the inning by grounding into a 4-6-3 double play.
It was the second time in two games that Oakland came up empty with the bases loaded and nobody out.
“It’s very frustrating,” Crosby said. “We need to get a win here. This isn’t too fun. We’ve got to pick it up. When guys are in scoring position, we’ve got to get a knock or get it done some way because this is a pretty frustrating time.”
Oakland starters are 1-11 with a 6.70 ERA in 18 games since the All-Star break.
Marcum won for the first time since May 26 against Kansas City. … The Athletics’ last win was a 6-5 victory over Texas on July 27. … Oakland RHP Sean Gallagher returned to California on Tuesday for an MRI exam because of irritation in his right shoulder. LHP Dan Meyer will start in Gallagher’s place Saturday at Detroit, with Gallagher pushed back to next week.