OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Toronto Blue Jays manager John Gibbons used a clever replay challenge to help his ballclub score a run off Oakland Athletics starter Sonny Gray.
Good thing, too, because it was the only run the Blue Jays managed.
Gray allowed four hits over seven innings to offset a second straight strong outing by R.A. Dickey, and Oakland beat Toronto 4-1 on Thursday night.
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, allowed two earned runs over eight innings but lost his fourth straight start. The knuckleballer struck out six and walked three.
“He pitched a great game. We just didn’t get anything going offensively,” Gibbons said. “They outplayed us, pure and simple.”
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.
The Blue Jays were nearly shut out in the first stop on their 10-game road trip. They hit into three double plays and didn’t get a runner past first base after the third.
Toronto’s only run came when Gibbons challenged a call in the second inning to have his own runner ruled out.
After the Blue Jays loaded the bases against Gray with one out, Anthony Gose hit a grounder to Oakland first baseman Nate 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.
“Replay’s a new dimension to this game and there’s going to be quirks and funny plays like this that happen,” crew chief Bill Miller said. “What happened on the field was there was a tag, there was not a tag on the runner at home.”
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 Dickey (6-8) in the eighth and scored on John Jaso’s double. Alberto Callaspo’s sacrifice fly made it 4-1.
Dickey did not give up a home run for the first time in nine starts.
“I felt like I pitched well enough to keep us in it,” Dickey said. “You know you’re going to be in a dog fight when you’re out there (against Oakland) so it’s unfortunate that last inning got away from me.”
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 Freiman, who tagged out Thole trying to get back to the bag.
Encarnacion singled in the seventh to extend his hitting streak to 11 games. The Toronto slugger is batting .421 during that span.
NOTES: The Blue Jays have lost six of their last seven road games. … Dickey had not lost four straight starts since 2004. … 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.