OAKLAND, Calif. -- Ryan Sweeney didn't mind when Oakland manager Bob Geren dropped him out of the leadoff spot in the lineup earlier this week.
If anything, the veteran outfielder welcomed the move down in the order."I just feel more relaxed," Sweeney said, after hitting a two-run homer to help the A's to a 5-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night."Sometimes I may have put more pressure on myself [batting leadoff] to get on base and make something happen. Maybe I was trying to do too much."Sweeney's home run highlighted a five-run second inning against Toronto starter Scott Richmond, but the A's bullpen made the biggest impact. Four relievers combined for 4 2-3 scoreless innings and kept the team with the best record in the AL from mounting a comeback.Michael Wuertz (2-1) pitched 1 2/3 innings for the win. Russ Springer and Andrew Bailey helped him blank the Blue Jays after starter Josh Outman was knocked from the game in the fifth inning. Bailey worked the final two innings for his first major league save in two tries."You just have to be ready to go," Wuertz said. "You're going to have nights like this and it's the bullpen's job to suck it up and get the job done."Jack Hannahan and Kurt Suzuki added run-scoring doubles for Oakland, which won for just the third time in eight games. Rod Barajas homered for Toronto, which lost its second straight after going 5-1 during a brief homestand.Richmond, the AL rookie of the month for April, allowed all five Oakland runs and lost for the first time season. The Toronto right-hander gave up six hits in the second inning but allowed only two baserunners after that.By then, the damage was already done."I didn't make the adjustments fast enough and compounded things a little bit," Richmond said. "When I make mistakes you see what happens. I was still getting ahead of hitters and I kept my pitch count down. I wasn't going to come out of the game early."Richmond, who had not lost since Sept. 4, allowed three or more earned runs for the first time in 11 career starts. He is winless with a 5.27 ERA in two career starts against Oakland."He had the one bad inning and we couldn't score any more runs," Toronto manager Cito Gaston said. "He just made some mistakes. It's important to shut them down after we scored three runs. We didn't do that, but he bounced back and pitched well. One or two more hits and we win that ballgame."Sweeney's homer to right came on the first pitch he saw from Richmond (4-1) and drove in Matt Holiday, who singled leading off the inning. Travis Buck later singled with two outs before Hannahan, Orlando Cabrera and Suzuki all drove in runs with hits."I feel comfortable in whatever spot they put me in," said Sweeney, who had batted leadoff in 24 of Oakland's previous 26 games before being dropped to the sixth spot in the order."Nothing's ever written in stone and we had a million different lineups last year, so you never know."Toronto had taken a 3-0 lead on an RBI double by Kevin Millar and the home run by Barajas, but couldn't get anything going against Oakland's bullpen after Outman left with runners on first and second with one out in the fifth."It's a solid bullpen," Geren said. "The unfortunate thing is we need our starters to go deeper. We'd have won more games if our starters had gone deeper."
Barajas' two RBIs gave him 301 for his career. Barajas is hitting .396 (21-for-53) over his last 14 games. ... Before the game, the A's acquired INF Adam Kennedy from the Tampa Bay Rays for a player to be named. Kennedy, the 2002 ALCS MVP while with the Angels, will be assigned to Oakland's Triple-A affiliate in Sacramento. ... A's 3B Eric Chavez (strained right forearm) took another step in his recovery and threw the ball while taking dry swings. ... Oakland RHP Santiago Casilla will pitch in a minor league game Saturday for the first time since going on the DL with a sprained right knee. ... Hall of Fame QB Steve Young took batting practice with the Blue Jays before the game. Young is friends with Toronto 1B Kevin Millar.