OAKLAND, Calif. - So confident in his sinkerball starter, Toronto manager John Farrell left Luis Perez in the game to get out of his own bases-loaded jam with the game on the line.
Perez calmly took care of it — composed, as if he'd done this many times before.
Perez pitched six brilliant innings in his first big league start and combined with Casey Janssen on a one-hitter, and Jose Bautista connected for his majors-best 36th home run to send the Blue Jays over the Oakland Athletics 1-0 on Sunday.
"I felt great. I wasn't feeling tired," Perez said through his translator, Blue Jays coach Luis Rivera. "I was happy he had the confidence in me to pitch and finish the inning with the bases loaded."
Bautista broke up a scoreless game with a deep drive into the left-field bleachers on the 10th pitch he saw from Guillermo Moscoso (6-7) leading off the seventh.
Perez (3-2) didn't allow an A's runner until Cliff Pennington drew a five-pitch walk to start the sixth. Jemile Weeks later singled up the middle to load the bases, but Perez induced an inning-ending double play by Coco Crisp with his final pitch.
Perez had made 29 relief appearances this season and was a starter throughout his minor league career.
"He's a confident kid," catcher J.P. Arencibia said. "If he's going to get beat, he's going to get beat attacking guys."
The 26-year-old left-hander — Oakland's ninth opposing lefty starter in 14 games — struck out four and walked two while throwing 80 pitches. He baffled Oakland's hitters with a fastball that moved and also mixed in his changeup.
Pretty good for a guy who hadn't gone more than four innings since May 15 while in triple-A. For his career, he had only eight appearances of two or more innings in the big leagues.
Perez said he didn't think about being perfect or his no-hit bid, but rather to keep going after the Oakland batters.
"I hadn't started a game and I didn't know how far I was going to go," Perez said. "Mentally I stayed strong. Each inning I pitched better and better. I kept attacking hitters and throwing strikes."
Janssen struck out five in three innings, earning his second save in three chances this season and ninth of his career. Closer Frank Francisco warmed up but his shoulder stiffened up and he couldn't go.
"When you have well-pitched games like that it looks like the offence is down and dragging a little bit," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "But both pitchers were terrific. One pitch ended up deciding the game."
Perez got some nice early help from his defence.
Weeks hit a flare to right field to begin the fourth that looked like it might fall in, but Bautista — who was a late scratch for Saturday night's loss with tightness in his neck — made a sliding catch for the out.
Two batters later, Perez fell behind 2-0 to Hideki Matsui before coming back to retire the A's designated hitter on a swinging strikeout.
Bautista made another tough play with a backhanded grab after running down Brandon Allen's deep fly ball just shy of warning track in the fifth.
Toronto had scored 46 runs over six games, including a 7-0 win in the series opener Thursday night, but has been held to two total runs since. There were three shutouts in the four-game series.
"This was a well pitched series all around," Farrell said. "To think three shutouts were thrown. This is not an easy ballpark to score in."
Bautista also hit a ninth-inning triple after centre-fielder Crisp lost the ball in the sun.
Moscoso pitched well enough to win had he received any support.
He allowed one run on three hits, struck out seven and walked one in eight innings, throwing 109 pitches.
"Sometimes you're going to have great days like this and you're going to get the loss. That was today," he said.