Surging Blue Jays extend winning streak to four games

The Canadian Press
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TORONTO — Liam Hendriks already had a big day on the go before taking the mound for his Blue Jays debut Friday night.

The Australian was called up from triple-A Buffalo, enjoyed his six-month anniversary with wife Kristi, and gave his mother Debbie a long-distance present as she celebrated her birthday Down Under.

Hendriks capped a day to remember with an impressive 5 2/3-inning performance in Toronto’s 3-2 win over Oakland at Rogers Centre. The 25-year-old right-hander allowed three hits and one earned run for his first major-league victory since last August.

“It’s kind of a big deal today for me,” he said.

Steve Tolleson staked Hendriks to an early lead with a two-run shot — his first homer of the season — in the second inning and the Blue Jays scratched out another run in the third.

Hendriks allowed a solo homer to Brandon Moss in the fourth inning. He escaped a bases-loaded jam in the fifth and left to a standing ovation in the sixth inning.

“That was incredible,” he said. “I got tingles all over my body for that. This is such a good crowd up here. It’s fantastic. They know their baseball up here.”

Hendriks, who spent parts of the last three seasons with the Twins, earned the callup with a sparkling 5-0 record and 1.48 earned-run average this season with the Bisons. He hopes to take full advantage of this second chance in the big leagues.

“It’s a huge thing for me,” he said. “I was given opportunities in Minnesota and I didn’t capitalize on them. Now I’ve got a different mindset coming into the season of just getting ready, getting aggressive and getting after guys early.

“I think it’s paid dividends so far and hopefully I can continue this trend and stay up here all year.”

Toronto manager John Gibbons was impressed.

“I would definitely say he’s earned another start,” he said.

The Blue Jays have won four straight games, nine of their last 11 and improved to 11-11 at home this season. Toronto (27-22) is five games over .500 for the first time in over two years.

The Blue Jays also lead the American League East division. The last time they were alone in first place this deep into the season was way back on July 6, 2000.

It was Tolleson’s first home run in a Toronto uniform and first in the majors since he went deep on June 10, 2012 with Philadelphia.

“We have a tremendous lineup, I mean Melky (Cabrera), Jose (Bautista), Eddie (Encarnacion), all of these guys have been swinging the bat really well,” said Tolleson, who batted seventh. “When the bottom of the order can get on base and they can drive us in or produce some runs ourselves that just helps everybody.”

Scott Kazmir (5-2) shouldered the loss for American League West-leading Oakland (30-18). He allowed five hits and three earned runs over seven innings.

However, it was the southpaw’s throwing error in the third inning that allowed the eventual winning run to score.

With Kevin Pillar aboard after a double, Kazmir threw to second base on a pickoff attempt but no one was covering the bag. Pillar ran to third on the play and scored when Jose Reyes hit a slow grounder to the right side of the infield.

“That turned out to be costly,” Kazmir said. “I should have held on to it. It ended up being the difference-maker in the game.”

Jed Lowrie was playing shortstop and Nick Punto was at second base.

“(Kazmir) thought that I was going to go to the base and I was just there to hold (Pillar) on just a little bit longer because he was extending his lead,” Lowrie said. “I wanted to stay there. He looked back and thought I was going to break and I didn’t have any plans to.”

The Athletics made it a one-run game in the eighth inning and threatened in the ninth. Coco Crisp hit a two-out double off Casey Janssen and stole third but the Toronto closer got Lowrie to ground out for his sixth save in six opportunities.

Notes: Toronto knuckleballer R.A. Dickey (4-4) will get the start Saturday afternoon against Jesse Chavez (4-1). ... The Blue Jays will host Tampa Bay and Kansas City during the homestand next week. ... Hendriks allowed three walks and had three strikeouts. ... Moss has 11 homers on the season. ... Bautista, who walked in the third inning, has reached base safely in 48 of 49 games this season. He leads the major leagues with 42 walks. ... Announced attendance was 21,007 and the game took two hours 37 minutes.

Organizations: Blue Jays, Rogers Centre, American League East division American League West

Geographic location: TORONTO, Oakland, Minnesota Philadelphia Tampa Bay Kansas City

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