SPORTS

Encarnacion, Johnson homer as Blue Jays beat A's and avoid sweep

07/26/2012 03:30 EDT | Updated 09/25/2012 05:12 EDT
TORONTO - A pair of big blasts and a bunt helped the Toronto Blue Jays avoid a sweep at the hands of the surging Oakland Athletics.

Edwin Encarnacion hit three-run homer in the fourth and Kelly Johnson hit a solo shot in the seventh as the Blue Jays beat Oakland 10-4 Thursday, stopping the Athletics' winning streak at seven games.

But in between the homers there was a bunt in the sixth by Travis Snider on a safety squeeze with runners at second and third that scored two runs when Oakland left-hander Tommy Milone lost control on his throw to first.

The throw hit Snider and allowed a second run to score on the play to give the Blue Jays a 5-4 lead, and they never looked back.

"In that spot we're playing for a run just to tie things up," Blue Jays manager John Farrell said. "Fortunately they mishandled the ball and we end up scoring two runs."

Milone said he rushed the throw.

"When he first squared I thought maybe I would have a play at home but then I kind of saw the runner out of the corner of my eye and he looked like he was going to be safe anyway," Milone said.

The Blue Jays bounced back from a 16-0 drubbing by the A's on Wednesday.

"You can quickly turn the page on a tough day, that’s the beauty of this game," Farrell said.

Left-hander Aaron Laffey allowed five hits – including home runs to Josh Reddick and Brandon Inge — three walks and four runs in 5 2/3 innings for Toronto. Brandon Lyon (1-0) replaced him in the sixth and struck out three in 1 1/3 innings.

Milone (9-7) gave up six runs, five earned, over seven innings as he allowed eight hits, including both Toronto homers.

The Athletics (53-45) are 16-3 in July after the loss to the Blue Jays (49-49), who avoided being swept in three games with the victory.

"Just a good come from behind win today, particularly with the way things finished up last night," Farrell said. "Their pitching had shut us down for pretty much two and a half games and once again we were able to bunch a couple of hits together. Edwin's obviously, with the big blow, the three-run homer. A key bunt for a base hit by Snider to tie it and then take the lead. And then we kind of broke through."

Reddick hit his 22nd homer of the season with two out in the first inning give Oakland a 1-0 lead.

Inge hit his 11th homer of the season with two out in the fourth to put Oakland up 3-0. The two-run shot scored Yoenis Cespedes, who had an infield single to shortstop with one out.

The Blue Jays tied it in the home fourth when Encarnacion hit his 27th homer of the season after Rajai Davis and Brett Lawrie of Langley, B.C., had singled.

They were the first Blue Jay hits of the game. Farrell felt the home run helped his team relax.

"Maybe a little bit of a deep breath, collectively, after that," he said. "And guys just kind of relaxed and put up better at bats the rest of the game. And we didn't miss as many pitches in the strike zone and we were able to bunch some hits together."

Reddick’s fielder's choice grounder to second scored Jemile Weeks from third to put Oakland took a 4-3 lead in the fifth.

Weeks walked with one out, Coco Crisp doubled and Jonny Gomes walked to load the bases. The Blue Jays got only a force at second on Reddick’s grounder to second baseman Johnson to allow the run to score.

Laffey left the game after Kurt Suzuki singled with two out in the sixth. He was replaced by Lyon, who was acquired last Friday in a trade with Houston. Lyon struck out Brandon Hicks to end the inning and had two more strikeouts in the seventh.

Colby Rasmus and Lawrie started the turn-around sixth inning with singles and each moved up a base on a wild pitch.

Snider bunted near the third-base line. Milone fielded it as the runner from third scored and the second runner scored on the errant throw to first. Snider was tagged out after he slipped while rounding first.

"I didn't even feel the ball hit me," Snider said. "I started running to second, I realized they had the ball right there. I think the guy up in the third deck sniped me, went down hard. Just tried to stay in the run-down long enough for Brett to cross the plate and get the two runs."

Johnson led off the bottom of the seventh with his 11th homer of the season to extend the Blue Jays lead to 6-4.

The Blue Jays scored four runs in the eighth on a double by Snider, a sacrifice fly by Yan Gomes, and a double by Johnson against Sean Doolittle and a double by Jeff Mathis against Evan Scribner.

“(Toronto) executed well and got some big hits down the stretch," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "Any time you take two out of three on the road you have to consider it somewhat of a success."

Notes: Attendance at Rogers Centre was 39,003. ... Mathis will get most of the starts as catcher while J.P. Arencibia on the disabled list with a fractured right hand after taking a foul tip in Wednesday’s 16-0 Oakland win. Gomes, who started at first base on Thursday, will be backup. ... Toronto shortstop Yunel Escobar was out of the lineup for the second game in a row with lower back tightness. ..Carlos Villanueva (5-0, 2.86 ERA) will start against Detroit’s Rick Porcello (7-5, 4.40 ERA) on Friday in the opener of a three game series.

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