OAKLAND, Calif. -- Gio Gonzalez had no intention of making this a short night, even after getting off to a rough start.
The Athletics' All-Star left-hander felt so strong that he joked with general manager Billy Beane in between innings that he would go the distance.It was about the only misjudgment he made.Gonzalez pitched eight stellar innings for his first win in more than a month, and Oakland held on to beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 on Saturday night."It's what they wanted to see," said Gonzalez, who had lost his previous five starts before teaming with Andrew Bailey on the four-hitter. "Instead of looking into the bullpen, it was more like, 'I got this.' I trust my bullpen 100 percent and I love them to death but this is where I have to grow up and learn."One day after Rich Harden and Bailey combined on a three-hitter, Gonzalez (10-11) and Bailey nearly duplicated it. The duo combined to retire 25 of the final 27 Toronto batters while helping Oakland to its fourth win in five games.Gonzalez, in particular, was very sharp.He allowed a one-out single to Thames in the first and hit designated hitter Adam Lind two batters later. Edwin Encarnacion then lined a single to right to drive in Thames, who beat the throw home from David De Jesus.Colby Rasmus followed with a walk to load the bases but Gonzalez retired Brett Lawrie on a foul pop-up to first to work out of it.After the second inning, Gonzalez jogged up to the A's clubhouse where he bumped into Beane. The general manager told his pitcher he didn't want to see Gonzalez again until after at least the seventh."I told him I was going to go nine, and (after) he said, 'You come in here popping off and you can't get nine,'" Gonzalez said. "That's the type of stuff we're building here. We're all having fun. We're still a work in progress but I'm striving to get better and better."Toronto, held to three hits a night earlier, didn't get much else after that. Gonzalez gave up a leadoff single to Thames in the third then retired the next 15 straight until John McDonald's leadoff single in the eighth.McDonald was sacrificed to second but Gonzalez -- who hadn't won since July 17 -- fanned Thames and Yunel Escobar to end the inning. Gonzalez finished with one walk and nine strikeouts."I think he'd had enough of what he's seeing as far as results go," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said of his pitcher. "He looked like he had a little more focus out there and was committed to what he was doing."Eric Thames had two hits and scored the only run for Toronto, which played without slugger Jose Bautista then lost Lind after he was hit by the Gonzalez pitch in the first inning.Bautista could be back in the lineup Sunday."This was more precautionary in nature," Toronto manager John Farrell said. "It started during batting practice. When we have to remove him before the game and then Lind goes down in his first at-bat (it) is a blow."Brandon Allen had two hits and scored the go-ahead run on a double play in the fourth inning while Josh Willingham homered as part of a three-run eighth for Oakland, which has won four of five at home after getting swept in a four-game series by Texas.Toronto starter Henderson Alvarez (0-1) suffered his first career loss despite a solid effort.He allowed three consecutive hits in the bottom of the first, including Hideki Matsui's tying RBI single, then retired eight of the next nine until the A's scored an unearned run in the fourth.Allen singled and took third after Toronto second baseman McDonald committed an error on Ryan Sweeney's grounder. Allen then scored the go-ahead run when David De Jesus hit into a 4-6-3 double play.Alvarez, who made his major league debut against Oakland on Aug. 10, kept it close but left after six innings. He finished with three strikeouts and one walk.Oakland scored three times in the eighth to break open the close game. Willingham capped the outburst with a two-run pinch-hit home run, his 22nd homer of the season. It's the first pinch-hit home run by an A's player this season.
Mike McCoy replaced Bautista in right field and hit in the leadoff spot. ... Less than a week after tearing his left hamstring, injured Blue Jays OF Rajai Davis has started running in Florida. Farrell continues to be hopeful that Davis can rejoin the team this season, though he acknowledged that the tear was "significant." ... SS Adeiny Hechavarria, one of Toronto's top minor league prospects, hit safely in his first eight games with Triple-A Las Vegas and went into Saturday batting .529 with one home run and five RBIs. ... RHP Guillermo Moscoso (6-6) pitches for Oakland on Sunday and will try to extend his personal winning streak to a career-best three games. His only win against Toronto came in relief on Aug. 11. ... LHP Luis Perez (2-2) makes his first career start for the Blue Jays, five days after throwing 61 pitches over four innings of relief and getting the win against Seattle.