Gray sharp as A's hold on for 6th straight win

Gray sharp as A's hold on for 6th straight win

TORONTO -- Chris Coghlan hit a three-run homer and Sonny Gray pitched seven innings of three-run ball as the Athletics extended their winning streak to six games with an 8-5 win over the Blue Jays on Friday night at Rogers Centre.

The six-game winning streak is Oakland's longest since July 3-8, 2014. The victory also snapped the A's six-game losing streak at Rogers Centre, and Friday's outcome marks their first win north of the border since Aug. 12, 2013. Oakland has now opened the year with a perfect 7-0 record on the road.

Coghlan's third homer of the season opened up an early four-run lead in the top of the second. Stephen Vogt went 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and a run scored, while Khris Davis added a pair of hits and drove in two runs for Oakland.

"We had some big hits today, no doubt about it," A's manager Bob Melvin said. "With this team on the other side, you have to keep adding on. You can't just score some runs and think that's gonna be it. We're getting contributions throughout, and that's what we envisioned to be the strength of our offense."

Gray struck out seven, allowing a lone run through five innings, and looked as though he would cruise early against Toronto. The 26-year-old right-hander worked out of trouble in the sixth and seventh innings, limiting the damage to a single run in each inning.

Blue Jays starter Aaron Sanchez, who came into the game having allowed just three earned runs this season, recorded career highs with six earned runs on 10 hits in taking his first loss of the season. The 23-year-old struggled early with his command and left a lot of balls up in the strike zone.

The Blue Jays rallied late with a run in the sixth, one in the seventh and a pair in the bottom of the eighth to cut the A's lead to one. Toronto put the tying and go-ahead runs aboard in the eighth before Ryan Goins grounded out to end the threat. Oakland broke the game open again with two more runs in the ninth.

"I thought they hit a couple of good pitches, too, and they were able to bleed a couple in there as well," Blue Jays catcher Russell Martin said. "But it was just one of those days where Aaron didn't really have his 'A' stuff and wasn't really able to get out of innings like he was capable of."

Martin day to day with neck spasms

Contagious hitting: Offensive woes appear to be a thing of the past for the A's, who averaged just 2.6 runs per game over their first 11 contests. They've since totaled 31 runs in their last six games, with Friday's showing accounting for their third straight game with at least five runs scored. Home runs have surely helped; Coghlan has two in as many days while making starts at third base in place of an injured Danny Valencia.

"We knew coming out of spring that we were gonna hit," Gray said. "BoMel [Melvin] kept saying it, and everyone kept believing it. It was no secret we struggled the first seven to 10 games, but we were just fighting and trying to stay afloat, and now we're turning it around and hitting the ball well."

Crisp's RBI double

Sonny's show: Gray began his night with a flourish, striking out five of his first six batters and retiring each of his first eight, heavily relying on a curveball that he threw nearly as much as his fastball. The right-hander largely kept the ball on the ground when he wasn't inducing swing and misses, totaling nine groundball outs -- two of which resulted in critical inning-ending double plays. Gray has tossed at least six innings in all of his four starts, and he finished Friday's game with a 2.73 ERA.

"It's incredible to play defense behind him," Davis said. "He's just throwing strikes and minimizing the damage, because that could've been a lot worse. Every time he's out there, he gives us a chance to win, no doubt about that." More >

Super sub: With starting shortstop Troy Tulowitzki sidelined with a sore hip and Goins moving over to shortstop, Darwin Barney got the start at second base and put the Blue Jays on the board with his first home run of the season in the third. Barney took an 0-1 offering from Gray and deposited it into the second deck to cut the A's lead to 4-1. Barney also scored on Jose Bautista's sixth-inning sac fly and produced an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh inning to score Kevin Pillar.

Barney's RBI single

Pesky Pillar: Pillar continued his streaky hitting with a pair of hits, including a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning to cut the A's lead to 6-5. Toronto's everyday center fielder is now 8-for-23 since moving out of the leadoff spot, with three multi-hit games over his past six outings.

Pillar's two-run single

"I felt great. It's a dream come true to make it to the big leagues." -- Blue Jays reliever Chad Girodo, on pitching two innings of scoreless relief in his Major League debut.

Sanchez allowed more than three earned runs for just the second time in 15 career starts in Friday's loss to the Athletics. The young right-hander surrendered five runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Orioles on May 13, 2015.

The A's were 2-for-2 in challenges, as replay officials made rulings on plays in the third and fourth innings that benefited Oakland. The neighborhood play came into focus in the third, when the original out ruling of Coco Crisp at second base was overturned. Then, in the fourth, officials overturned a safe call at first base, in turn awarding the A's an inning-ending double play.

Crisp safe after review

Toronto lost its challenge in the bottom of the ninth inning on a close play at first base. Ezequiel Carrera tried to get on base with a bunt, and he nearly beat out the throw but was called out by first base umpire Chris Conroy. The play went to review, but the call was ruled to stand.

Carrera out after review

Athletics: Right-hander Chris Bassitt, who has pitched to a 2.79 ERA in his first three outings, draws the start in the middle matchup of a three-game set with the Blue Jays on Saturday at Rogers Centre, with first pitch set for 10:07 a.m. PT. This will be Bassitt's first career start against Toronto.

Blue Jays: Left-hander J.A. Happ gets the call for the Blue Jays against the A's on Saturday at 1:07 p.m. ET at Rogers Centre. Happ is 3-0 with a 2.78 ERA in seven games (five starts) against Oakland in his career.

Watch every out-of-market regular-season game live on MLB.TV.

Jane Lee has covered the A's for since 2010.

Alykhan Ravjiani is a reporter for based in Toronto.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.