Big hits from Encarnacion, Escobar lift Blue Jays

Big hits from Encarnacion, Escobar lift Blue Jays

Big hits from Encarnacion, Escobar lift Blue Jays
OAKLAND -- The Blue Jays may be without their offensive stars, but they've still got plenty of speed, and a little luck.

They used all of that to piece together a 6-5 victory over the A's on Sunday afternoon at the Coliseum, salvaging a split in the four-game series after they lost the first two games.

The Blue Jays had been without Brett Lawrie and Colby Rasmus for each of the past two games, and they were already missing Jose Bautista, Adam Lind and J.P. Arencibia. Even with a patchwork lineup, they still produced 12 hits and their most runs since July 27.

"We're really deep," said Blue Jays outfielder Rajai Davis. "We have a deep organization. We got some hitters that are definitely very good. We were fortunate to have some of the young guys step up, and [Edwin] Encarnacion hit a big homer."

Encarnacion's team-leading 29th homer, a two-run shot in the fourth, was the biggest blow of the game for the Blue Jays on a day that they did most of their damage with well-placed singles, and in the case of their first-inning run, pure speed.

Davis was at second with a leadoff double when Anthony Gose dropped down a sacrifice. A's catcher Derek Norris pounced on the ball and made a strong throw to nail Gose at first, but Davis kept running and beat Norris back to the plate with the game's first run.

"I was actually stealing on the play, and it was a great bunt laid down by Gose," Davis said. "It was a tough play all around by them. The catcher made an athletic play to get the out at first, but I could see they weren't paying attention to me, and I was trying to take advantage of the opportunity."

After the Blue Jays fell behind 4-1 in the third, they tried to use their speed again, but this time it didn't matter. Gose was running on a pitch to Encarnacion, but Encarnacion drilled the ball over the center-field fence.

"We had been struggling the last couple of games," Encarnacion said. "I hit that homer and we started getting some emotion and swinging the bats better."

Encarnacion, who had been 4-for-24 with no extra-base hits in the first six games of the trip, also doubled and drew an intentional walk in the game.

The Blue Jays then took the lead with a three-run fifth that began quietly, with two outs and a popup. But shortstop Adam Rosales couldn't track down Davis' popup in shallow left, and it fell for a single. Gose then doubled, sending Davis to third. Encarnacion was walked to load the bases.

Yunel Escobar then hit a ground ball perfectly through the hole on the left side of the infield, driving in two runs to give the Blue Jays a 5-4 lead. Kelly Johnson followed with another bloop single, pushing home an insurance run.

The run turned out to be the difference, because the A's added a run against Blue Jays reliever Brandon Lyon in the seventh.

Blue Jays lefty Aaron Laffey bounced back after a couple rough starts to get a victory with six strong innings, save for one pitch that he'd like to have back.

With two on in the third inning, Laffey threw an 0-2 fastball over the inner half of the plate and Josh Reddick pounded it over the right-field fence, for a three-run homer.

"I beat him the at-bat before [inside], I tried to do the same thing," Laffey said. "This time it came over the middle of the plate and he put a good swing on it. After that happens the only thing I focus on is bear down and keep the team in the game. Your whole goal after that was to put up three zeroes."

Laffey did just that. He faced just one batter over the minimum over his next three innings. Thanks to the offensive production, he had the lead when he turned the game over to the bullpen.

Closer Casey Janssen picked up the save with a scoreless ninth, but he owes a big assist to Yan Gomes, who had just moved from first to third. With a runner at first and one out, Jemile Weeks yanked a line drive that seemed to be ticketed for the left field corner, perhaps good enough to score pinch-runner Eric Sogard from first with the tying run. But Gomes fully extended his right to make a backhanded snag of the line drive, and then he threw to first to double-off Sogard, ending the game.

"I thought it was going to get by him, but he let it get deep and caught it like that," Weeks said. "That's the game. I hit it good, wasn't much else I wanted to do with that pitch, and he made the play."

Jeff Fletcher is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.