OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Sonny Gray allowed four hits over seven innings to bounce back from his worst start of the season and the Oakland Athletics beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-1 on Thursday night.
The Blue Jays scored their only run with the help of a clever replay challenge by manager John Gibbons, who wanted to have his own player ruled out in order to get a run.
Stephen Vogt scored the winning run on a passed ball in the second inning and the A’s made it hold up behind Gray and two relievers.
Gray (8-3) walked three, struck out five and got some help from Oakland’s defense which turned three double plays, including one in the eighth after Josh Thole’s leadoff single. Jose Reyes hit a fly out to deep right and Oakland’s Brandon Moss made a strong throw back to first baseman Nate Freiman, who tagged out Thole trying to get back to the bag.
Freiman added an RBI double in his third start for Oakland since being called up from the minors earlier this week.
Freiman was also involved in the unusual use of a replay challenge in the second inning.
After Toronto loaded the bases against Gray with one out, Anthony Gose hit a grounder to Freiman. Freiman appeared to tag Munenori Kawasaki as he ran for second base, but umpire Vic Carapazza ruled Freiman missed the tag and Kawasaki was safe.
Freiman then threw to catcher Stephen Vogt, who stepped on home plate for a forceout with Edwin Encarnacion, the runner on third, approaching.
Gibbons requested the review, arguing that Kawasaki was out and that Encarnacion should be allowed to score because there would have been no force play at the plate.
After a delay of 4 minutes, 27 seconds, the call was overturned and the Blue Jays were given a 1-0 lead.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin immediately came out to argue. The A’s played the remainder of the game under protest.
It didn’t matter.
Freiman doubled in Brandon Moss in the bottom of the inning, and Vogt scored on a passed ball to put the A’s up 2-1.
Craig Gentry singled off Toronto starter R.A. Dickey (6-8) in the eighth and scored on John Jaso’s double. Alberto Callaspo’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1.
Dickey, who beat the A’s on May 24, when he allowed two runs over 8 1-3 innings in his best outing of the season, lost his fourth straight start. The knuckleballer struck out six and walked three.
The loss drops the Blue Jays into a first-place tie with Baltimore in the AL East. It’s the first time since May 21 that Toronto has not held sole possession of the top spot in the division.
Encarnacion singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 11 games.
Dan Otero pitched the eighth and Sean Doolittle worked the ninth for his 12th save. Doolittle had blown saves in his previous two appearances before retiring the side in order against Toronto.
NOTES: Dickey had not lost four straight starts since 2004. … A’s slugger Yoenis Cespedes went 0 for 4 to snap a 15-game hitting streak. … Oakland 3B Josh Donaldson (lower back stiffness) was held out of the starting lineup for a second straight game. … The A’s activated LHP Eric O’Flaherty from the 60-day DL and designed LHP Jeff Francis for assignment. O’Flaherty underwent Tommy John surgery last year and hasn’t pitched in the majors since May 17, 2013. … The A’s reached agreement on a 10-year lease extension with the Oakland Coliseum. As part of the deal, the A’s will pay $10 million for the installation of new video scoreboards as well as other upgrades to the aging facility. … Toronto OF Colby Rasmus was held out of the lineup after injuring his right wrist running into the wall during the series against Milwaukee. … Oakland LHP Tommy Milone (6-3) faces Toronto RHP Marcus Stroman (4-2) on Friday.