Blue Jays fall behind early, lose to Athletics
By JANIE McCAULEY
AP Baseball Writer
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Manager John Gibbons watched his struggling Toronto Blue Jays fall behind big early, hits some home runs to make things interesting only to give the runs right back.
Gibbons didn't attempt to sugarcoat the 9-4 loss to the Oakland Athletics on Monday night afterward, either.
"It was less than an inspiring game," he said. "We didn't play a very good game all the way around. We fell behind early, tried to hang around and they blew it open."
After a long first inning, Esmil Rogers (3-5) didn't make it out of the fifth in his first career start against the A's. He was tagged for a season-high eight runs -- six earned -- on nine hits in 4 1-3 innings.
"He wasn't very good tonight," Gibbons said. "This team makes you throw them strikes."
Rogers didn't record his first out until the 24th pitch he threw, and needed 35 in all to get out of the first already in a 4-0 hole. That made for a tough night regardless.
"The stress is throwing 30-odd pitches in the first inning. I tried to bring it back bit they got me with two outs," he said. "It was my command. I didn't throw any of my pitches consistently for strikes. It was one of those days. Right now I am trying to do anything I can to win but I am still learning."
Yoenis Cespedes homered and hit a two-run triple, Josh Reddick added a two-run double and had three RBIs, and the AL West-leading A's (63-43) won their fourth straight and seventh in nine to move a season-best 20 games over .500, tied for best record in the AL with Tampa Bay.
Edwin Encarnacion hit a two-run homer, while Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie each hit solo shots against A.J. Griffin (10-7), who retired the first 13 batters of the game before Lind's one-out drive in the fifth.
Lawrie homered leading off the sixth, and Encarnacion connected for his 29th of the year four batters later.
But that wasn't enough against Griffin and Oakland's productive offense.
The shaggy-haired Griffin, who went 7-1 last year as a rookie, gave up four runs and four hits, struck out five and walked two in seven innings to win for the fifth time in his last six decisions. He was through four perfect innings on 42 pitches.
Oakland has matched its best record through 106 games since 1992.
"It means we've won a lot of games to this point. We're still in July," manager Bob Melvin said. "You keep trying to pile up the wins, add them up at the end and see where you're at."
Jed Lowrie singled home a run and Reddick hit a sacrifice fly in Oakland's four-run first inning. Cespedes led off the eighth with his 16th home run, snapping a career-high 25-game homerless streak for the Home Run Derby champion.
"When I'm hitting well, I feel like I'm contributing my grain of sand, doing my part," Cespedes said. "This team is pretty dangerous when everybody works together."
Toronto, last in the AL East, had its six-game road winning streak against the AL West end.
Rogers is still searching for some consistency at this stage of the season.
"When he's on he's pretty tough, but he can be wild too and this team works you," Gibbons said. "He didn't get away with anything."
NOTES: Encarnacion earned AL Player of the Week after batting .520 over seven games with two homers and eight RBIs. ... The Blue Jays dropped to 10-5 vs. the West, losing for only the second time in their last nine to the division. ... The clubs met for the first time this season. Minnesota is the only AL team Oakland is yet to face. "It's a little odd to be playing a team this late in the season for the first time," Melvin said. ... Blue Jays DH Adam Lind returned to the starting lineup after missing Sunday's finale at Houston with back discomfort. ... Former A's OF Rajai Davis wasn't in the lineup for Toronto a day after matching a franchise record with four stolen bases. "I got lucky," he joked. ... Cespedes hadn't homered since hitting two June 21 at Seattle. Monday's clout also was his first at home in 25 games since May 19.
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