A's Call Up Prospect Michael Taylor As Rosters Expand

The A's are in the final two months of what has been a tough season. We'll provide news updates and game recaps over the next 51 games as the A's try and figure out an identity for themselves. For more on the A's, check out Athletics Nation.

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September Call-Ups: A's Promote Michael Taylor, Adam Rosales To Major League Roster

The Oakland Athletics made a variety of roster moves Friday afternoon to take advantage of the expansion of Major League Baseball rosters. On September 1, rosters expand to 40 players, which allows teams to call up various prospects if they so choose. Prospects can benefit from getting some late season playing time, but also can benefit simply by being in a big league environment.

The A’s are taking advantage of this by calling up several players from Triple-A Sacramento. They promoted infielder Adam Rosales, outfielder Michael Taylor, and pitchers Michael Wuertz and Andrew Carignan. Taylor and Carignan will both be making their debut on a major league roster.

The A’s acquired Michael Taylor from the Philadelphia Phillies in a three-team trade involving the Toronto Blue Jays. Taylor is considered a masher and a long term middle of the order option for the A’s. He struggled a bit last year with only six home runs, but has bounced back with 16 home runs and a line of .272/.360/.456. The A’s are looking for him to take hold of an outfield job next spring.

The A’s drafted Andrew Carignan in the fifth round of the 2007 MLB Draft. Carignan appeared stalled out at single Stockton in 2009 and 2010, but 2011 saw him climb from Single-A Stockton to Double-A Midland to Triple-A Sacramento. In 33 games across the three levels, Carignan is 1-0 with a 1.85 ERA and 46 strikeouts over 39 innings.

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A's Trade Conor Jackson To The Red Sox For Jason Rice

Conor Jackson has been traded from the Oakland Athletics to the Boston Red Sox for minor league pitcher Jason Rice and cash. The A's announced the decision after losing to the Cleveland Indians.

Jackson is in his seventh year in the majors and has bounced around, starting with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005 before finding his way to Oakland a few years later. Jackson has been performing okay at the plate (.249 batting average, .315 on base percentage, .342 slugging percentage), but it apparently wasn't satisfactory enough for the organization, so the A's turrned him loose. Jackson played for Cal in college, so his Bay Area ties are pretty deep.

Rice is a minor league pitcher for the Pawtucket Red Sox, and has accrued a 3.69 ERA with a 1.395 WHIP. It looks like the A's are trying their hand at a farm pitcher and hoping he pans out. The A's could sure use someone panning out for them. And money. Money doesn't hurt either.

For more on Oakland baseball, head to Athletics Nation.

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A's Lose To Indians In 16 Innings On Blown Call At Home Plate

The Oakland Athletics can’t buy a break in 2011 and the hits just kept on coming Wednesday night (and into Thursday morning Cleveland time). The A’s and the Cleveland Indians dueled well into the evening, going 16 innings before the Indians won on a Jack Hannahan single to right field that scored pinch runner Cord Phelps from second. David DeJesus attempted to throw out Phelps at the plate but home plate umpire Bruce Dreckman ruled Phelps safe. Replays indicated otherwise.

The A’s bullpen put together a wildly successful evening prior to that. After Rich Harden started and went six innings, the bullpen came on to throw nine innings of relief from the seventh through the fifteenth, giving up two hits and one walk during that time. At one point the bullpen retired 24 straight Indians.

In the 15th, the Indians had a chance to win the game. Jason Donald led off the inning with a double and advanced to third on a deep Jerad Head fly out to left. However, Josh Outman struck out Lou Marson and Kosuke Fukudome to get out of the inning. He would have less luck in the 16th, but that’s the kind of thing that happens when you’re having the kind of season the A’s are having.

The A’s and Indians have a quick turnaround on Thursday with a getaway day game at 12:05pm local time. The bad news is the two teams combined to use twelve relief pitchers. The good news is they each only used one bench player and will have a rested backup catcher available to start. Kurt Suzuki and Lou Marson combined on 31 1/3 innings of catching Wednesday evening.

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A’s-Red Sox Game Delayed For A Second Time In One Inning By Hurricane Irene

The Oakland A's have been delayed in Game 1 of their Saturday doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. The game has already been delayed twice due to rain, first at the top of the seventh inning and now at the end of the same inning.

The A's have not fared too well thus far, trailing 9-2. The Red Sox poured in runs during each of the first five innings, including a two-inning stretch during the bottom of the second and third when Boston put in three runs each. Oakland has struggled to find its offense, getting one run each in the second and third innings but remaining scoreless through all of the others.

It looks highly unlikely that the two squads will be able to complete their doubleheader today. Hurricane Irene continues to press forward and wreck havoc on the East Coast, postponing current activity and pushing back sports events.

The A's need to fly out of Boston and get to Cleveland before the hurricane hits. Oakland will take on the Cleveland Indians in a four-game series scheduled to begin on Monday.

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A's Bomb Red Sox In 15-5 Rout

A day after the New York Yankees unloaded 22 runs on the Oakland Athletics unsuspecting pitching, the A’s turned around and put a similar beatdown on the Boston Red Sox. After Boston took an early 1-0 lead, the A’s proceeded to put up eight unanswered runs en route to a 15-5 victory.

The A’s used a six-run fourth inning to blow the game open and never looked back in spite of Thursday’s blown lead. The fourth inning featured a Scott Sizemore two-run home run, a two-run double by HIdeki Matsui, and finally a two-run home run by Josh Willingham who quietly now has 23 home runs on the season.

Aside from Coco Crisp, the A’s lineup got big days across the board. Jemile Weeks was 3-for-5 with three runs scored. Brandon Allen had a pair of hits and also reached base on an error. David DeJesus was 2-for-5 with the RBIs, Kurt Suzuki had a pair of hits, Cliff Pennington had three hits, and Sizemore wrapped it up with his home run.

Gio Gonzalez struggled a bit as the Red Sox tagged him for four runs in 5 2/3 innings. The A’s are facing a doubleheader on Saturday but the bullpen did not have much in the way of high stress innings. Brian Fuentes, Grant Balfour and Craig Breslow combined for 2 1/3 innings of one walk, one hit ball. Jerry Blevins gave up a run in the ninth, but otherwise got through fairly well, too. This provides the A’s with some decent arms available for Saturday’s doubleheader.

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Oakland A's Call Up Josh Outman, Graham Godfrey, Jerry Blevins For Boston Red Sox Series

The Oakland Athletics made three transactions Friday afternoon in preparation for their weekend series with the Boston Red Sox. The two teams have a doubleheader scheduled for Saturday as Hurricane Irene threatens and thus some additional arms are needed. In order to prepare for the doubleheader, the A’s have called up Jerry Blevins and Josh Outman. Additionally, on Saturday the team will officially call up Graham Godfrey to start the second game of the doubleheader.

The A’s struggled through Thursday’s series finale with the Yankees as they were bombed 22-9 in a video-game style loss. Jordan Norberto and Bruce Billings were two of the key culprits in Thursday’s loss as they gave up a combined 11 runs in two innings of work. They have been sent down and for now it looks like Josh Outman and Jerry Blevins will both be working primarily in relief.

Blevins has been working as a relief pitcher his entire career while Outman has worked primarily as a starter. Nonetheless, it sounds like Outman will be coming out of the bullpen for now. With the Rivercats season fast coming to an end, Outman will likely get an extended opportunity up in Sacramento.

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Yankees Blitz A's To The Tune Of 22-9

The Oakland Athletics appeared to be in the driver’s seat for their first series sweep of the New York Yankees since 2006. A five-run third inning, highlighted by Cliff Pennington’s three-run home run put the A’s up 7-1. Russell Martin hit a solo home run in the bottom of the fourth, but 7-2 still seemed manageable. And then the flood gates opened.

Robinson Cano got what would be an historical run going with a grand slam off Rich Harden in the fourth, cutting the lead to 7-6. Craig Breslow got out of the inning with no more damage and got an out after hitting Curtis Granderson in the bottom of the sixth. Fautino De Los Santos came on in relief and after loading the bases proceeded to give up a grand slam to Russell Martin, giving the Yankees a 10-7 lead.

The Yankees would continue piling on the runs with six in the seventh and sixth in the eighth. The most notable scoring came on the record-setting third grand slam of the game, this by Curtis Granderson. Not much else really needs to be said. A 22-9 loss more or less speaks for itself.

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Athletics, Red Sox May Play Double-Header Due to Hurricane Irene

According to the San Francisco Chronicles Susan Slusser, the Oakland A's and Boston Red Sox may have to play a double-header due to the fact that hurricane Irene is taking a path that will likely reach land in the Boston area:

I am hearing there is the possibility of the #Athletics and #RedSox playing a doubleheader on Saturday. Internal discussions in Boston.less than a minute ago via Twittelator Favorite Retweet Reply

 

Having to stop a game due to some rain is one thing, but when a hurricane is heading your way, you should probably take every precaution possible, like skipping a day and playing a double-header. We will just have to wait and see what Mother Nature feels like doing. 

For more on the A's, head over to Athletics Nation. 

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Coco Crisp Drives A's To 6-4 Victory Over Yankees

The Oakland Athletics have played two games at Yankee Stadium this week and have won both, securing their first series victory over the New York Yankees since 2007. After Brandon Allen powered the team to victory Tuesday night, Coco Crisp was the hero on Wednesday. The veteran center fielder, more known for his speed and defense, had a career day at the plate as he was 4-for-4 with 5 RBIs and hit home runs from both sides of the plate for the first time in his career.

The A’s once again jumped on top early in the game when Crisp hit his first home run in the first inning, giving the A’s a 1-0 lead. The Yankees worked their way into a 2-1 lead on a Derek Jeter RBI single in the third inning and a Nick Swisher home run in the sixth inning. C.C. Sabathia was cruising at this point and seemed ready to squad the A’s.

The A’s quickly jumped back into the game in the eighth inning. Kurt Suzuki led off the inning with a single and advanced to second on a Cliff Pennington sacrifice before scoring on a Scott Sizemore double. Sizemore had a monster day himself going 4-for-4 with the RBI and two runs scored. Jemile Weeks followed with a walk and Coco Crisp then drove in Sizemore to give the A’s a 3-2 lead.

Grant Balfour came on in relief in the eighth and proceeded to give up a leadoff home run to Mark Teixeira. The Yankees then put men on first and second, but Balfour was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

The teams exchanged zeros in the ninth inning before Rafael Soriano came on in relief of Mariano Rivera in the tenth inning. After forcing Kurt Suzuki to ground out, Soriano gave up singles to Cliff Pennington and Scott Sizemore. Jemile Weeks struck out swinging, bringing up Coco Crisp for his fifth plate appearance of the game. Crisp proceeded to hit the first Soriano offering into the second deck, giving the A’s a 6-3 lead.

Andrew Bailey would give up a two out solo home run to Nick Swisher, but that was all the Yankees could muster as they fell 6-4. The win improves the A’s to 59-70 and moves them 14 games back of the Rangers in the AL West. The Yankees drop to 77-50 and sit one game back of the Red Sox in the AL East.

The Yankees and A’s wrap up their three game series at 10:05am pacific Thursday morning. The A’s will send out Rich Harden to face Phil Hughes as the A’s look for their first sweep of the Yankees since 2006. The game will be broadcast on CSN California.

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Brandon Allen Leads A's To 6-5 Victory Over Yankees

The Oakland Athletics jumped out to a quick 6-5 victory to start their final series of the season against the New York Yankees. The A’s have scuffled at times but find themselves in the midst of a bit of a hot streak having won five of seven. The A’s jumped out to a 6-0 lead behind a pair of mammoth home runs by Brandon Allen and held on by the skin of their tooth for a 6-5 win.

Allen got the scoring going in the second inning with a one out home run that hit the 300-level in right field. Only Russell Branyan has reached that level in 2011. Eric Sogard followed with a solo home run in the third inning that just wrapped around the right field foul pole but counted just the same as Allen’s.

In the sixth, seventh and eighth innings the A’s would add four more runs, all of which would prove key. After Coco Crisp led off the sixth with a double and advanced to third on a Matsui right field fly, Josh Willingham sacrificed Crisp home for a 3-0 lead. Scott Sizemore hit a two-run RBI double off Boone Logan in the seventh and Brandon Allen added another solo home run into the second deck in the eighth.

Brandon McCarthy cruised into the eighth inning with a shutout having given up six hits and two walks. However, things unraveled from there. Derek Jeter grabbed his third hit of the game and Curtis Granderson followed with a walk. After Mark Teixeira flew out to center and Robinson Cano lined out to shortstop, Nick Swisher hit a three run home run to cut the 6-0 lead in half. Grant Balfour came on in relief to get the final out, bringing on Andrew Bailey in the ninth.

Bailey got into trouble right away as he gave up a solo home run to Jorge Posada to lead off the inning. Russell Martin followed that with a double and Brett Gardner then reached safely on an error by Scott Sizemore. Derek Jeter sacrificed the two runners over to second and third and then Granderson walked to load the bases. After Mark Teixeira fouled out, Robinson Cano was able to work a questionable walk to drive in the fifth run. Bailey then fell behind 2-0 to Nick Swisher but managed to escape with the save and the A’s victory by forcing Swisher to fly out to the deepest part of center field.

The A’s and Yankees play the second game of their series Wednesday evening at 4:05pm pacific. Trevor Cahill faces off against Yankees ace CC Sabathia. Cahill is looking for his tenth win of the season.

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Athletics Third Baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff Traded To Rockies

The Colorado Rockies and Oakland Athletics may both be out of the playoff races, but that didn't stop the two teams from making a deal on Tuesday afternoon. A's third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff was dealt to Colorado for either cash considerations or a player-to-be-named-later. 

G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB K SB CS AVG OBP SLG
2011 - Kevin Kouzmanoff 46 136 13 30 6 0 4 17 8 27 2 0 .221 .262 .353

Kouzmanoff has struggled to stay healthy in 2011 and his production has not exactly been great at the plate, though he is regarded as a solid defender at the hot corner. No word yet on the amount of money or caliber of prospects that will be sent to Oakland, but do not expect too much. This is not a big move for either team.

For the Rockies, they will have the option of offering arbitration to their new third baseman once the season ends. He will make somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 million next season should a deal be reached.

For more A's coverage, check out Athletics Nation.

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Rich Harden Will Not Be Traded

After nearing trading Rich Harden to the Boston Red Sox last month, the Oakland Athletics could be looking to move their veteran starting pitcher to a different AL East foe -- the New York Yankees. A trade would not be easy, though.

WEEI Radio's blog has the story:

The Yankees have had scouts at the past two starts for Athletics right-handed starter Rich Harden, a sign that the Yankees could possibly be interested in the pitcher, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. It also reports that scouts from other potential playoff teams have also been in attendance.

...

The Red Sox were interested in Harden at the trading deadline. The two teams had a deal in place for the Sox to land Harden, but the deal fell through after the Red Sox saw Harden's medical record and became concerned about his availability for the rest of the season.

Harden has pitched well since the trade deadline and that would be the cause of the Yankees recent interest, though a pitcher with his history of injuries can go down at any time.

A potential deal could become complicated because Harden would have to pass through waivers in order for the Yankees to obtain him. Would playoff contenders such as the Rangers, Red Sox, Tigers, Indians and Angels let Harden get through? Maybe, maybe not. 

As far as a return would go for the A's, it would be minimal. In deals after the trade deadline, most of them would include a player-to-be-named-later or two, along with cash considerations. No major prospects would be made in a move to acquire a guy for a month.

For more Athletics coverage be sure to check out Athletics Nation. If you're a Yankees fan, the good guys at Pinstripe Alley will keep you updated.

UPDATE -- 1pm

The Yankees may have been interested in Harden, but it was the Cleveland Indians who placed the claim on him. After this, Oakland pulled him from waivers. Buster Olney tweeted the info:

Rich Harden was pulled back from waivers after being claimed. Cleveland, the team awarded the claim, couldn't work out a deal.

Oh, well. 

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Athletics Take Two Of Three From Orioles Behind Timely Hitting

The Oakland Athletics bounced back from a sweep against the Texas Rangers to take two of three from the Baltimore Orioles. Although the A’s did manage six innings of work from their starter each night, the offense had to step up to take care of business. The A’s hitters put together 14 runs over the final two games, both victories for the green and gold.

The A’s have been looking at some of their young talent in preparation for 2012 and appear to have a few players they will expect big things from next year. Jemile Weeks continues to hit well at the top of the order, but the latest revelation is recently acquired Brandon Allen. The A’s acquired Allen in their trade of Brad Ziegler to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Allen hadn’t quite turned his minor league power into major league production, but he’s started to hit the ball with authority in Oakland. In four games filling in for Conor Jackson at first base, Allen is hitting .538/.571/.769. It’s an incredibly small sample size, but it is cause for some optimism. If he can show some consistency the rest of the year he could be a lock to start at first base in 2012.

Kurt Suzuki managed to wrap up the series on a high note. The A’s catcher has struggled in 2011, but he managed a pair of solo home runs on Wednesday. Although Suzuki is consistently solid behind the plate, the A’s will be looking for more consistent at bats from their catcher heading into 2012.

The A’s welcome the Toronto Blue Jays to town for a four-game set. The Blue Jays are 62-60 but sit 12 games back of the wild card-leading Boston Red Sox and 13 back of the first place New York Yankees.

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MLB Waiver Trade Deadline: A's Reportedly Place Coco Crisp, Rich Harden, Craig Breslow On Waivers

The Oakland Athletics have reportedly placed Coco Crisp, Rich Harden and Craig Breslow on waivers, two weeks in advance of MLB’s waiver trade deadline. Most people recall the July 31 trade deadline as the big date for player movement. However, teams are allowed to conduct trades between July 31 and August 31 if they are able to get players through waivers.

The A’s have already shown an example of moving a player through waivers in the form of Hideki Matsui. A team can place all their players on waivers and if they are not claimed by anybody they then have the right to trade that player. If another team places a claim on the player, no trade can happen and the first team has a right to either pull back the player or release him to the new team.

The A’s passed through the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline with only one trade (Brad Ziegler) as they were unable to get much in return. Since then Hideki Matsui in particular has been on fire, opening the door for additional possible trade opportunities. The next two weeks will be interesting to watch as the A’s figure out what to do with Matsui and the other players that might clear waivers.

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Hideki Matsui Clears Waivers, Eligible To Be Traded

Although the 2011 MLB trade deadline passed, the waiver trade deadline is still two weeks away. The July 31st trade deadline is for non-waiver trades, while the next deadline allows teams to trade any player that can clear waivers. Teams will place a player on waivers and if he clears he can then be dealt. If another team places a claim on the player the original team can either pull the player back off waivers and keep him, or just let the opposing team take on his contract.

The A’s placed several of their veterans on waivers and Hideki Matsui has reportedly cleared waivers. The A’s have not indicated a plan to deal their 37-year old designated hitter, but the option is available. Matsui struggled immensely through the first half of the season but has been on fire since the All Star break. His first half line was .209/.290/.327 while his second half line is .410/.470/.630. Although that second half line is only over 100 at bats, it’s still an impressive line.

Manager Bob Melvin has said if he returns as manager in 2012 he’d like Matsui back on the roster. If he has settled in at the Coliseum he does bring some value to the team, but they’ll have to consider their long-term plans with guys like Chris Carter and Michael Taylor, and whether they’ll use the designated hitter role for them.

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Rangers Sweep Athletics Behind Big Hitting, Strong Pitching

The Oakland Athletics opened up a ten-game homestand this weekend with three games against the Texas Rangers and proceeded to get badly outplayed for much of the series. The A’s came into the weekend winning four of five and conceivably could have cut the Rangers division lead to single digits. Instead they now find themselves 15 1/2 games out of first place.

The A’s opened the series getting thumped 9-1 Friday night. The Rangers put six runs on the board in the second inning and three more in the fourth inning. What was most impressive about the offensive performance was the diversity of contributors. Nobody had more than one RBI as the Rangers absolutely battered the A’s with singles. C.J. Wilson put together a solid six innings of work as he gave up one run on four hits and three walks.

Saturday saw the Rangers spread their offensive production across the final four innings. Trevor Cahill and Colby Lewis exchanged zeroes through the first five innings before Texas got on board with a run in the sixth. The Rangers added a run in the seventh, three in the eighth and two in the ninth en route to a 7-1 victory.

The Rangers wrapped up the sweep on Sunday with a 7-6 victory as they withstood a furious A’s comeback. Texas jumped on top quickly with three runs in the first inning. They eventually stretched the lead to 6-0 before the A’s rallied to tie the game in the fifth and sixth innings. Newcomer Brandon Allen had a strong performance going 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. Unfortunately the Rangers broke back through in the ninth to secure the victory. Mitch Moreland earned a one-out walk and was replaced by pinch-runner Craig Gentry, who proceeded to steal second with two outs. David Murphy singled in Gentry and the A’s went quietly in the ninth.

The A’s welcome the Baltimore Orioles on Monday for a three-game series between two of the more abysmal teams in the league. The Orioles are 46-72 and sit 26 1/2 games back of first place. Gio Gonzalez will face Tommy Hunter Monday evening.

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Conor Jackson, Hideki Matsui Secure Series Victory For Athletics Against Blue Jays

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) – Conor Jackson drove in three runs while Hideki Matsui had four hits and two RBI, helping the Oakland Athletics take a 10-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in the rubber match of this three-game series. Guillermo Moscoso (5-6) tossed six strong innings, allowing two runs — one earned — on three hits and two walks while striking out six in Oakland’s fourth win in five games.

“I did a pretty good job and the guys did a pretty good job as well. They hit the ball well and gave me some support,” Moscoso said. “I tried to take advantage of it by getting ahead in the counts and getting quick outs.”

Toronto’s Brad Mills (1-2) allowed six runs on five hits, two walks and a hit batter in just three innings. It was the third start of the year for the left- hander, who was called up July 30. J.P. Arencibia had a solo home run as the Jays lost for the fifth time in eight games.

Oakland jumped all over Mills in the third inning, scoring six runs before recording an out. After Adam Rosales walked to lead off the third, Scott Sizemore hit a double down the third-base line to put runners on second and third. Cliff Pennington followed with a two-run double off the base of the wall in left-center. Matsui then singled on a soft line drive into center to bring home Pennington. Josh Willingham was hit by a pitch before Jackson hammered a triple high off the left-field wall, scoring Matsui and Willingham. Jackson then crossed the plate on a wild pitch to give the A’s a 6-0 lead. Mills finally settled in to get the next three batters out, but he would not return to the mound for the fourth.

“It was a combination of bad pitches and bad breaks. Obviously, I didn’t make a lot of good [pitches] that inning,” Mills said about the third inning.

Yunel Escobar led off the fourth inning with a walk to be the Blue Jays first base runner of the game. Jose Bautista was given a free pass two batters later. Adam Lind followed with a grounder to short that should have been an easy double play, but Pennington’s throw was wide of second, allowing Escobar to score and moving Bautista to third. Edwin Encarnacion then legged out an infield single to bring Bautista across the plate and make it a 6-2 game.

But Oakland got those runs back, plus more, off of Luis Perez in the sixth. Matsui had an RBI single and Jackson added a sacrifice fly before Perez’s throwing error on a dribbler by Ryan Sweeney with the bases loaded scored two more, making the score 10-2.

J.P. Arencibia’s solo shot with one out in the seventh off of Fautino De Los Santos finalized the scoring. Toronto only managed to put runners in scoring position in the fourth, sixth and ninth innings, going 1-for-8 in those situations and leaving six men on base.

Oakland Athletics center fielder Coco Crisp, who hasn’t played since Saturday, sat out another game with a sore right calf…Encarnacion extended his hit streak to a season-high 10 games…Oakland wrapped up its nine-game, 11-day road trip with a record of 4-5…Moscoso improved to 2-5 in eight road appearances — seven starts…Oakland has now committed 20 errors in 25 games since the All-Star break…Oakland went 6-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left 13 men on base.

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Athletics Come Up Short To Blue Jays Despite Josh Willingham, David DeJesus Home Runs

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) – Brett Lawrie’s first career grand slam capped a five-run sixth inning, as Toronto rallied past Oakland, 8-4, in the second edition of a three-game set from Rogers Centre. Adam Lind finished with two hits and an RBI for the Blue Jays, who also saw Rajai Davis, Aaron Hill and Edwin Encarnacion knock in a run each.

In his major-league debut, Henderson Alvarez lasted 5 2/3 innings, giving up eight hits and three runs with four strikeouts. Casey Janssen (4-0) earned the win by recording the final out of the sixth.

David DeJesus collected two hits including a solo homer and Josh Willingham also went deep for the Athletics, whose three-game win streak came to an end. Gio Gonzalez (9-10) pitched into the sixth inning, but suffered the loss after yielding four hits and four runs with five walks.

Toronto chased Gonzalez and took the lead for good thanks to that deciding frame. Lind doubled, then both Encarnacion and Colby Rasmus walked before Craig Breslow got the call. He served up an RBI hit by Hill, which pulled the Jays within 3-2, and after J.P. Arencibia went down swinging, Lawrie launched his blast just over the wall in left to make it a 6-3 contest.

Encarnacion doubled home Jose Bautista in the seventh for a four-run game, and both benches emptied with no real action with one out in the eighth after A’s reliever Jordan Norberto hit Yunel Escobar in the back near his left shoulder blade. The brief dust-up occurred after Davis singled in Lawrie — who doubled in the previous at-bat, to give Toronto an 8-3 advantage. Josh Willingham’s two-out homer in the ninth off Jesse Litsch wasn’t nearly enough for Oakland.

The Jays picked up a run in their first at-bat as Escobar singled, Bautista walked and Lind followed with an RBI single. A walk to Encarnacion loaded the bases, but Gonzalez worked out of the jam by retiring the next two batters.

Oakland tallied three times in the third, on a DeJesus one-out homer, Ryan Sweeney’s RBI double and a two-out, run-scoring hit from Scott Sizemore.

Toronto has won three of the five meetings with Oakland this season…Arencibia was the lone Blue Jays starter to be held hitless…Five Oakland starters (Willingham, DeJesus, Conor Jackson, Kurt Suzuki and Sizemore) connected for two hits in defeat…Alvarez threw 104 pitches, 64 for strikes.

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Rich Harden Dominant In A's 4-1 Victory Over Blue Jays

Toronto, ON (Sports Network) – Rich Harden tossed seven strong innings and Josh Willingham belted the go-ahead two-run homer as Oakland topped Toronto, 4-1, in the opener of a three-game set from Rogers Centre. Harden (3-2) matched his longest outing of the season, yielding just five hits and one run with two walks while fanning eight.

“I finished stronger than when I started,” Harden said

Andrew Bailey turned in a scoreless ninth to earn his 14th save. Kurt Suzuki also homered and Ryan Sweeney added an RBI single for the Athletics, who have won three straight to shake off the memory of four consecutive losses.

Edwin Encarnacion collected two hits including a solo shot for the Blue Jays, who have lost four of six. Brett Cecil (4-5) was touched in defeat for three runs on four hits over seven frames.

“Brett threw the ball well enough to put us in a position to win,” Jays manager John Farrell said.

The Blue Jays welcomed Langley, British Columbia native Brett Lawrie with a standing ovation when the Toronto third baseman came to bat in the second inning. Lawrie, who went 0-for-3, in his first home game as a major league player. Harden, another BC native, fanned Lawrie in the second.

Trailing by a run and stifled by Cecil through the first five innings, Cliff Pennington singled to start the sixth and two batters later, Willingham cleared the left-field wall for a 2-1 A’s edge. Suzuki launched a Cecil offering deep into the second deck in left to start the Oakland seventh to make it a two-run lead, then Sweeney drove in David DeJesus — who was hit by a pitch — for a 4-1 contest in the ninth. Bailey issued a leadoff walk to Encarnacion in Toronto’s terminal at-bat, but locked down the victory by retiring the next three batters.

Encarnacion’s 10th home run of the season barely cleared the wall in left to start the second and give Toronto a 1-0 lead. Cecil had retired the first eight men he faced then stranded two A’s in scoring position in the third.

Harden also worked seven innings but did not factor into the decision in a 4-3 Oakland win against the Angels on July 16…Cecil lost for the first time since July 5…Prior to the game, the Jays sent pitcher Wil Ledezman outright to Triple-A Las Vegas and purchased the contract of pitcher Henderson Alvarez from Double-A New Hampshire.

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Athletics Defeat Rays, Secure Series Win Behind Josh Willingham 10th Inning Home Run

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Josh Willingham launched a 3-2 fastball over the left field fence in the 10th inning to lift the Oakland Athletics over the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, in the rubber match of a three-game set at Tropicana Field.

Hideki Matsui hit a two-run homer and Ryan Sweeney drove in a run for the A’s, who won the last two games of the series after dropping four in a row. Fautino De Los Santos (1-0) earned his first MLB win after tossing a scoreless ninth and Andrew Bailey picked up his 13th save of the season after stranding two runners in the 10th to secure the win.

Evan Longoria and Casey Kotchman both hit solo homers and Desmond Jennings had three hits and an RBI for the Rays, who lost for the third time in six tries. Jake McGee (0-1) took the loss — the first of his career — after surrendering the deciding home run in the 10th. David Price started the game for Tampa Bay but lasted just 4 2/3 innings after giving up four runs on seven hits.

The A’s scored three in the fifth to take a 4-3 lead. Jemile Weeks tripled to left-center before Matsui homered to right. David DeJesus followed with a single then advanced to second and third following two straight walks. DeJesus then scored when J.P. Howell, who replaced Price one hitter earlier, threw a wild pitch.

Longoria tied the game in the seventh with a solo homer, clobbering a 1-0 fastball deep into the stands in left for his 16th home run of the season. Johnny Damon almost won the game for the Rays in the ninth, driving a ball deep into right, but DeJesus caught it at the wall to end the frame.

Earlier, Tampa took a 1-0 lead in the third. Sean Rodriguez was hit by a pitch, stole second and moved to third on a Jennings bunt single. Damon followed with a groundout, but Rodriguez was able to score on the fielder’s choice.

But Oakland came back in the fourth to tie the game at 1-1. DeJesus led off with a ground-rule double then scored when Sweeney singled to left. The Rays added two more in the fourth to go up 3-1. Kotchman hit a leadoff homer before Matt Joyce scored on a Jennings single past a diving Eric Sogard at short. Trevor Cahill started for the A’s and gave up three runs on six hits.

Matsui extended his hitting streak to 15 games…Cahill’s two walks gave him an American League-high 66. He is also tied with Colorado’s Jhoulys Chacin for the most in the majors…The Rays placed pitcher Alex Cobb on the 15-day disabled list and recalled pitcher Cesar Ramos from Triple-A Durham…Tampa Bay fell to 16-15 in one-run games this season.

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Athletics vs. Rays: Brandon McCarthy Tosses Eight Shutout Innings In 8-0 A's Victory

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Brandon McCarthy tossed eight shutout innings to guide the Oakland Athletics past the Tampa Bay Rays, 8-0, in the second of a three-game set at Tropicana Field. McCarthy (5-5) scattered five hits, walked none and struck out five to pick up his third win in as many starts. He’s won four straight decisions. David DeJesus added a pair of solo homers and Coco Crisp had two hits, scored twice and stole four bases as the A’s snapped a four-game skid.

Robinson Chirinos went 2-for-3 with a double and Evan Longoria added a hit for the Rays, who lost for the second time in five games. Alex Cobb (3-2) was pegged with the loss after giving up five runs on seven hits in just 4 1/3 innings. Following the game Cobb was taken to a local hospital after experiencing discomfort in his pitching hand.

Oakland jumped to an early 2-0 lead in the second. DeJesus hit a leadoff homer to right. Scott Sizemore then singled and Kurt Suzuki followed with a double to left to put runners at second and third. Adam Rosales grounded out, but Sizemore scored on the play.

Oakland added another run in both the third and fourth to go up 4-0. Crisp opened the third with a bunt single then stole second. Hideki Matsui grounded out, advancing Crisp to third before Josh Willingham scored Crisp with a sacrifice fly to left.

In the fourth Sizemore drew a walk, stole second then scored on Jemile Weeks’ single to right. The fifth saw Oakland push its lead to 5-0. Crisp singled before stealing both second and third. Cliff Pennington then hit a bases-loaded sacrifice fly to right off Brandon Gomes. The A’s added two more in the eighth, on a sacrifice fly from Rosales and a double from Weeks. DeJesus put an exclamation point on the victory in the eighth after clubbing is second solo blast of the night.

The A’s are 39-19 when scoring four or more runs…Matsui extended his hitting-streak to 14 games…Oakland stole seven total bases (Crisp four, Pennington two, Sizemore)…The Rays are 27-27 at home this season…Tampa Bay now trails the Yankees and Red Sox by ten games in the AL wild card and East standings.

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A's Drop Fourth Straight In 8-4 Loss To Rays

St. Petersburg, FL (Sports Network) – Jeff Niemann came within one out of his first complete game of the season to lead the Tampa Bay Rays to an 8-4 victory over the Oakland Athletics in the opener of a three-game series.

Niemann (6-4) gave up four runs on seven hits and struck out eight while walking one to win his fifth straight decision. He’s unbeaten in his last eight starts and hasn’t lost since May 4 against Toronto. Kyle Farnsworth recorded the final out. Ben Zobrist ripped a two-run single and added a double, while B,J. Upton finished 3-for-3 with a pair of RBI for the Rays, who have won three in a row.

Coco Crisp smacked a two-run home run while Hideki Matsui added a solo homer for the A’s, who have lost four consecutive games. Guillermo Moscoso (4-6) threw 93 pitches in 4 2/3 innings to take the loss. He gave up four runs on six hits while walking three and striking out three.

In the home half of the fourth, the Rays loaded the bases with one out on walks to Zobrist and Matt Joyce and a single by Upton. Robinson Chirinos followed and slammed a ball off the leg of Moscoso, who gathered himself and took the sure out at first base, allowing Zobrist to cross the plate with the game’s first run. Following the RBI, the Rays were left with runners on second and third with two down, but could not capitalize any further as Moscoso got Sean Rodriguez to ground out to end the inning.

The Rays tacked on three runs in the fifth. Johnny Damon slapped a single to center with one out and Evan Longoria followed with an RBI double into the right-center field gap to push the lead to 2-0. Following a Zobrist pop-out, Casey Kotchman lined a double down into the right field corner to chase Longoria home.

Later in the inning, Moscoso was pulled in favor of Fautino De Los Santos, who uncorked a wild pitch which allowed Kotchman to advance to third. After Upton walked, Joyce roped an RBI single into left. Oakland got on the board in the sixth, courtesy of Crisp’s two-run homer.

Tampa Bay extended its lead to 7-2 in the sixth on a two-run single by Zobrist and an RBI base hit from Upton. Oakland picked up a pair of runs in the ninth. Matsui led off the inning by blasting his 10th homer of the season deep into the seats in right. Following a Josh Willingham groundout, David DeJesus doubled and Cliff Pennington tripled. Farnsworth entered and got Kurt Suzuki to foul out to end the game.

Oakland is 0-4 on its current nine-game, 11 day road trip…The A’s lead the season series with Tampa Bay, 3-2…Musical act The Go-Gos performed a post- game concert in honor of 80’s night at Tropicana Field…Pennington, who returned to the lineup after missing two games due to Bell’s Palsy, went 1-for-4…It was Crisp’s fifth home run of the season.

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Athletics Look To Figure Out Plan For 2012 Season Over Final Two Months

The A's are in the final two months of what has been a tough season. We'll provide news updates and game recaps over the next 51 games as the A's try and figure out an identity for themselves. For more on the A's, check out Athletics Nation.

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