Final

Series: Game 1 of 4

Oakland leads 1-0 (as of 7/27)

Game 1: Thursday, July 27
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Oakland5
Game 2: Friday, July 28
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Oakland3
Game 3: Saturday, July 29
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Game 4: Sunday, July 30
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Blue Jays 2

(56-46, 21-25 away)

Athletics 5

(53-49, 26-24 home)

    10:05 PM ET, July 27, 2006

    O.co Coliseum, Oakland, California 

    123456789 R H E
    TOR 000101000 2 5 0
    OAK 00010310 - 5 9 0

    W: J. Blanton (11-8)

    L: T. Lilly (9-9)

    S: H. Street (21)

    Blanton wins third straight; A's retake AL West lead

    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) -- Eric Chavez celebrated hitting into a double play.

    The sound of the ball leaving his bat in the second inning showed the Oakland star he is finally making strides at the plate after a monthlong struggle to hit because of tendinitis in both arms.

    Chavez had more reason to be thrilled later.

    He hit a go-ahead two-run single in the sixth inning to help Joe Blanton win his third straight start, and the Athletics beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Thursday night.

    "It's good. I'm almost a week away," Chavez said of fully regaining his stroke. "Even the first ball I hit into the double play was encouraging to me. I really don't look for results. I look for feel."

    Jay Payton homered and singled in a run and Marco Scutaro added a sacrifice fly as the A's moved a half-game ahead of the idle Los Angeles Angels at the top of the AL West.

    Oakland won its second straight after snapping a three-game losing streak and season-high five-game skid at home with Wednesday's 5-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox to avoid a three-game sweep.

    Blanton (11-8) pitched seven strong innings to win for the fourth time in five starts and improved to 3-0 since the All-Star break. He didn't allow a hit until No. 9 hitter John McDonald's two-out single in the third.

    Troy Glaus doubled and drove in two runs for the Blue Jays, who began the second stop of their 10-game, 11-day trip by losing for the third time in four games. Oakland lost two of three in Toronto from May 9-11.

    "It was one of those tight games and it's kind of been our track record this year," Toronto manager John Gibbons said. "Low-scoring games, we haven't won a lot of them."

    Frank Thomas, who homered twice Wednesday to give him 470 for his career, started the sixth with a rare double, then Nick Swisher walked one out later. Chavez followed with a single to center to score two runs and chase Toronto starter Ted Lilly (9-9).

    Chavez, who has missed nine of the last 24 games with the injury, had his first multi-RBI game since June 16 against the Dodgers. He is batting .193 during that span.

    "The really big hit was Chavy driving the ball up the middle -- nice sound off his bat," manager Ken Macha said. "Chavy's been out there swinging with sore arms the whole time."

    Lilly, who has allowed one or fewer home runs in each of his last eight outings, hasn't won in Oakland since Sept. 21, 2003, as a member of the A's in a 12-0 victory over Seattle. He faced Blanton the last time he pitched at the Coliseum, losing 5-2 to the A's on June 4, 2005.

    "The way I was pitching I was lucky I didn't give up more runs," Lilly said. "Going out there and performing like that bothers me. I don't think that's going to go away any time soon. I'm looking forward to getting out there again, that's for sure."

    Blanton allowed two runs and five hits, struck out four and walked one. Huston Street recorded the final three outs for his 21st save in 27 chances and hasn't allowed a run in 12 2-3 innings over his last 13 appearances.

    Street, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, converted his 44th save to tie him with Billy Koch for sixth place on the A's all-time list.

    After Blanton plunked cleanup hitter Glaus leading off the second, Lilly did the same to A's cleanup hitter Thomas to start the bottom half of the inning -- and both benches were warned by plate umpire Jeff Nelson.

    Glaus drove in a run on a fielder's choice in the fourth for Toronto, then Oakland tied it in the bottom half on Payton's shot to left, his sixth homer of the season.

    That ended an 0-for-13 stretch for Payton.

    "I'm just trying to hit and do what I can," he said. "The last few games have been rough. I was being too aggressive. I tried to slow things down."

    Vernon Wells extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a fourth-inning double. He also was back in center field. The All-Star was the designated hitter Wednesday at Seattle after missing two games with a sore back.

    Wells is batting .412 (21-for-51) during his hitting streak.

    Game notes


    After the game, the Blue Jays outrighted OF Chad Mottola to Triple-A Syracuse to make room for Alex Rios' return Friday. Toronto is bringing up RHP Dustin McGowan from Syracuse to start sometime this weekend. ... Lilly, who was just the 22nd left-handed starter Oakland has faced this year, allowed four runs and five hits in 5 1-3 innings, struck out four and walked four. ... After Blanton went 4-5 over his first 10 starts, he is 7-3 over his last 11 outings. ... The A's placed LHP Scott Sauerbeck on the 15-day DL with a strained right groin and recalled LHP Ron Flores from Triple-A Sacramento to fill the roster spot. ... Blue Jays RHP Jeremy Accardo, traded by San Francisco last week, pitched in the seventh in his first return trip to the Bay Area.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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