OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Manager Ken Macha studied a printout of
Jason Kendall's career hitting stats this spring and quickly
realized he'd be getting a quality at-bat out of his new catcher
anywhere in the order.
Kendall, batting second again after two days in the No. 3 hole,
hit a tiebreaking single to left in the eighth inning and the
Oakland Athletics avoided a three-game sweep with a 6-3 win over
the Toronto Blue Jays on Wednesday night.
"I don't care where I hit," said Kendall, who also had an RBI
double in the sixth. "I'm not going to change my approach.
Hitting's hard enough as it is. ... I hit it and hope it falls in
somewhere. As a team we've been scuffling a little bit, but we're
Kiko Calero (1-0) pitched the eighth for the win as the A's
avoided being swept by the Blue Jays in Oakland for the first time
since Aug. 29-31, 1993.
Swisher started the eighth with a single to right, then advanced
on a sacrifice bunt by Mark Ellis. Frasor intentionally walked Mark
Kotsay to bring up Kendall, whose liner to left got down despite
Reed Johnson's diving attempt at a catch.
The A's scored again when pitcher Scott Schoeneweis threw home
trying to get Kotsay and catcher Gregg Zaun lost track of the ball
and dropped it for an error. Keith Ginter added a two-run single
Alex Rios drove in a run in the ninth against A's closer Octavio
Dotel with a groundout.
Johnson hit a monstrous homer onto an elevated camera platform
in center, but the Blue Jays couldn't muster much other offense
against rookie A's starter Joe Blanton.
"When you win the first two, you think sweep," Zaun said. "A
couple of things broke down for us late in the game. We're playing
good ball, getting good starting pitching, timely hitting and
playing good defense. We just need to continue to do that."
Toronto (6-3), which won its first three series to start the
year for the first time since beginning the 2001 season by taking
six straight series, began the day with baseball's best record and
still is one of only four teams with six wins. The Blue Jays are in
first place in the AL East.
David Bush pitched seven strong innings for the Blue Jays but
didn't get a decision. After Scott Hatteberg's single leading off
the second, Bush retired 11 straight batters before surrendering
the homer to Swisher to start the sixth.
The A's had left 68 men on base -- tied with Pittsburgh for
second most in the majors -- going into Wednesday's games,
struggling to score runs at key times. So this was a step in the
Kendall is still adjusting to changing leagues and learning new
pitchers after spending nine losing seasons with the Pittsburgh
"A couple big hits by our No. 2 guy tonight," Macha said. "He
hits .300 leadoff, he hits .300 batting second, he hits .300
batting third. He does not over swing and he's going to put the
ball in play."
No one had more than one hit for Toronto, which begins a tough
four-game series at Texas on Thursday with ace Roy Halladay on the
Blanton, a rookie right-hander who won 11 games at Triple-A
Sacramento last season, retired 15 of 17 before giving up Johnson's
shot leading off the sixth. Blanton's eyes got big as he turned and
watched the ball sail out just to the left of the 400-feet sign,
the only run he allowed and one of three hits.
He had a no-decision in his first major league start last Friday
at Tampa Bay and is still looking for his first victory at this
"I felt a little better than last time," Blanton said. "I
worked on my mechanics and the ball was coming out of my hand a
Blanton pitched six sharp innings then gave way to fellow rookie
Huston Street, who the A's wanted to see in more difficult
situations. The right-hander, a star closer for Texas who played
only one season in the minors, gave up a double to Shea Hillenbrand
to start the seventh, then a tying RBI single to Rios two batters
Both starters had thrown 62 pitches through five with 43
strikes. ... Toronto was 3-6 against the A's last year. ... Blue
Jays' 3B Corey Koskie, whose neck stiffened up on a fourth-inning
single in Tuesday's game, was held out as a precaution and should
be ready to play Thursday at Texas. Hillenbrand started at third
and helped turn a 5-4-3 double play in the second. "I tweaked
it," Koskie said. "It's better today." ... Halladay headed to
Arlington early Wednesday in preparation for his start.